Iowa State Fair’s Big Pumpkin is a 1,221 pounder

DES MOINES — The winner of the Iowa State Fair’s Big Pumpkin contest is more than 200 pounds heavier than the pig that was crowned as the fair’s Big Boar.

Kids, and adults, are lining up to snap photos with the big orange fruit that weighs over 1,221 pounds. There were 20 entries in this year’s contest and they’re all on display outside the Agriculture Building on the state fairgrounds.

Rhonda Magnusson of Hartford, superintendent of Agriculture and Horticulture Crops at the Iowa State Fair, said it’s not easy to produce a really huge pumpkin. Growers have to keep the varmints away and keep the plants supplied with lots of water. “At some point they’ll grow about 40 pounds a day,” Magnussen said.

It’s early in the pumpkin growing season and most competitions are held in the fall. “If we had this in the first of October or something, we’d have like over 2000 pound pumpkins,” Magnussen said.

The Iowa State Fair started its Big Pumpkin contest nearly 20 years ago and the winners don’t just get bragging rights. There’s an $1,850 prize. This year’s winner was grown by a team. Don Young and his son-in-law Tommy Rhodes of Des Moines have won the contest before.

This year’s Big Boar at the Fair weighed in at 1,012 pounds on the first day of the State Fair. The Super Bull is more than 3,000 pounds. The sheep that won the Big Ram is more than 400 pounds.