“It was a great seed,” he said. “We used that same seed last year to grow a pumpkin almost as big but we lost it in the patch.” Of the secret of growing the giant cucurbit, he said, “I attribute it to the weather, the seed and Ronnie has an excellent program where we constantly monitor the balance of the soil, all the nutrients are balanced correctly.”
Turns out, the runner up was a homegrown giant. For a few minutes, at least, Lancaster received rock star treatment for his personal best of 1,649 pounds.
“This was my easiest year ever. I had a new patch, it was pretty much weed free,” said Lancaster, who lives in downtown Topsfield. He said a fresh pumpkin patch this year made all the difference.
“He took down his kids’ swimming pool this year to grow it,” O’Brien said. “It’s not big farms. It’s not big acreage, it’s people growing these things in their backyard, and it’s a hobby and they are passionate about it and that’s what it is.”
Lancaster, who works as a maintenance supervisor for the Topsfield Housing Authority, said his prior record of 1,247 pounds had once placed him as high as eighth in the competition.
“I think Ronnie’s got me, but I’m glad I got second,” Lancaster said even before Wallace’s pumpkin was weighed.
Another local grower who weighed his personal best with a 1,543.5 pound pumpkin was Armand Michaud of Ipswich.
“God gave us good weather all year,” Michaud said.
Last night’s record at the Topsfield Fair may not last long, however.
Richard Wallace said his son may have an even bigger one at home he plans to weigh at Frerichs Farm in Warren, R.I., the site of the Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers annual weigh-off. Still, the Wallaces are glad to have broken the record in Topsfield.
“We like Topsfield. It’s one of the first weigh-offs we ever went to,” Richard Wallace said. “And we like the people that run the weigh-off.”
The world record pumpkin will be on display at the fair through Columbus Day.