SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

September 27, 2012

Take me to the fair

It's all about tradition in Topsfield

Like sumo wrestlers stepping into the ring, entries in the All New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off will start arriving at the Topsfield Fair tomorrow.

Then slowly, very slowly, forklifts will deliver the pumpkins to the scales.

It’s a ritual that has become one of the most anticipated events at the fair, which starts tomorrow at the fairgrounds on Route 1 and runs through Columbus Day.

With so much to see and do, from the midway to the barnyard animals to the Flying Wallendas, it’s hard to choose a favorite. So we’ve rounded up a sampler of fair activities you may want to check out.

Great pumpkins

Last year’s winning giant pumpkin weighed in at 1,668.5 pounds, and this summer’s hot weather may have produced something bigger, said Mary Ann Hoomis of Ipswich, who, with her husband, George, is an associate director of the New England Pumpkin Growers Association.

But the heat has also taken its toll, and while some entries may be larger than last year’s, there may also be fewer of them, she said.

“It won’t pollinate over 90 degrees, unless you put ice packs on it, which pumpkin growers do,” she said. “If you did not get your pumpkin pollinated in June — we had that streak of hot weather, and everything aborted.”

The weather will have no effect on the winner’s purse, which is also a decent size, awarding $5,500 for first place — provided their pumpkin was grown in New England — and $3,000 if it came from somewhere else.

But for the first time this year, there is also a reward of $10,000 for any entry that weighs in at 1 ton. To reach that, a pumpkin would have to be much bigger than the current world record, which was set last October in Canada at 1,818.5 pounds.

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