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September 20, 2013

Giant pumpkins to invade Cooperstown

By Michelle Miller The Cooperstown Crier
The Daily Star

---- — PumpkinFest will return to Cooperstown this weekend. 

The two-day event, hosted by the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, will kick off Saturday as growers converge at Doubleday Field parking lot for a giant pumpkin weigh-off. Food and merchandise vendors will also be on hand starting at 9 a.m. Sunday will feature the annual Pumpkin Regatta, where giant pumpkins or squash are carved into boats for a series of races setting off from Lakefront Park. 

The weigh-off is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and will feature growers from all over the Northeast. The grower with the heaviest pumpkin will win $2,000 and a plaque. Other prizes will be handed out to participants.

Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce Director Pat Szarpa said the growers have indicated that this has been a challenging year for them because of early, heavy rains.

“It slowed the beginning progress of the growth, so there may not be as many massive ones as in the past,” she said. “There just was not enough time for them to get fattened up.”

Having smaller pumpkins wouldn’t be all bad because that could benefit the Regatta, according to Szarpa. She said the ideal size for the floating pumpkin boats that will be raced across Otsego Lake is 300 to 400 pounds. Squash have also been used in the past.

“We would like to have at least 15 pumpkins we can carve out and race Sunday morning,” she said.

Racing is set to begin at 11 a.m.and will be broadcast live at www.ustream.tv/channel/cooperstownchamber.

“The event has become very popular,” Szarpa said. “In the past, people had said they had a hard time getting a good spot to see the races. We want everyone to be able to enjoy the event.”

The video will also be available after the event.

A vendor marketplace, children’s games and pumpkin carving and decorating contest have been added to Saturday’s lineup of festivities. A performance of the comedy “The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged” will follow the weigh-off. 

On Sunday, Lakefront Park will also feature a vendor marketplace with food, crafts, music and children’s games.

For more information about PumpkinFest, visit cooperstownchamber.org.