I never stayed overnight in the pumpkin patch like Linus waiting for the “Great Pumpkin” but I have been to many state fairs with their “Largest Pumpkin” contest, like the one in the picture above.

I remember my grandfather Hoffman taking me and my sister Lynn to the Danbury Fair.  One year me and Lynn won a photo contest as the “Best Young Cowboy and Cowgirl”.  Brothers and sisters had their picture taken wearing cowboy hats, with our “six-shooters” drawn and blazing.  Since Hopalong Cassidy was my boyhood idol I had a lot of practise with my six-shooter.

Sadly the Danbury Fair has been plowed over and is now the site of the Danbury Mall.  Cowboys, pumpkins and apple pie contest replaced by designer clothing stores.

When was the last time you went to a Fair?  Any fond memories you would like to share?  Do you plan to go to a Fair this year?

From an article about the pumpkin pictured above by Cynthia Anderson of the Christian Science Monitor


“In simpler times, people held fairs to get together and show off the livestock they’d raised and the vegetables they’d grown. In Fryeburg, they still do.”

“For Steve and Sally Swenson, it comes down to a giant Atlantic pumpkin named Daisy. She – pumpkins are always female – sits in a picket fence enclosure just inside the agricultural exhibition hall, not far from Old McDonald’s petting barn and the walk-away sundae booth. At 375 pounds, Daisy commands her share of attention from the fairgoers who mill around taking in the displays of baked goods and knitwear.”

“Recently, two days before Fryeburg began, the Swensons held a “fairwell” party for Daisy and 150 guests in the backyard of their home in North Conway, N.H. The guest of honor – a resplendent orange orb surrounded by 400 square feet of foliage – was serenaded by a women’s barbershop quartet (the Pumpkinettes) and a men’s choir (the Pumpkin Heads).”

“Neighbors fed and watered Daisy while the Swensons were away on vacation. Other friends served as “medical” consultants. At the party, Steve Swenson recounted a conversation between Sally and one of them.

“She told him, ‘Daisy’s oozing from her bellybutton.’ ” He replied that she had her “anatomy all wrong:” The problem was with Daisy’s backside.”

“2008 was a tough year for pumpkins. All over New England, gourd-type vegetables cracked, burst, and popped after having taken in too much water during an unusually wet summer. Those that made it were smaller than average, often soft or affected by fungus.

Daisy was among the fortunate. She survived the ooze and the weather and woodchucks – mainly through luck and the ministrations of the Swensons, who have been growing Atlantic giants for 10 years and last year won second prize for their entry in the Fryeburg Fair.

In March, the Swensons singled out Daisy from a number of plants. As an only seedling, she was cosseted – fed Miracle Gro, manure tea, and extra potassium along with, every morning, coffee grounds. The grounds, Steve Swenson is convinced, are responsible for her deep, rich color.

She was covered by night and shaded by day with a tarp. Her taproots were severed – carefully, carefully – because taproots can pull down the stem and crack it.

At the proper time, she was hand-pollinated with a Q-tip. “You don’t leave it up to the bees because they could cross-pollinate with a squash,” says Steve Swenson. He and Sally chose “the best-looking male and female,” which is determined by such things as petal vigor and stem angle. Afterwards the female was closed off with a twist-tie so no bees could get to her.

“Like her predecessors – Gladys, Bertha, and Agnes – Daisy was named “after she began to develop personality,” says Sally Swenson. In this case, the nascent pumpkin was perfectly round, with a short stem and covered with downy hairs. “She was perky and bubbly, and we knew she’d be good-looking.”

“Daisy wound up with the red ribbon and a $30 premium. The Swensons were disappointed but mindful of not communicating that to their pumpkin. “We told her there’s nothing wrong with being No. 2,” says Sally Swenson. “And she was the most beautiful.