1,900-pound pumpkin! Ridgefield vegetables weighed in big

RIDGEFIELD — A nearly 2,000-pound orange behemoth set a record at Ridgefield’s Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off, although the festival that usually accompanies the event did not take place this year due to COVID-19.

The weigh-off was on Sunday at the Lounsbury House, and the top pumpkin weighed in at 1,954 pounds — that’s just 46 pounds under a ton. The monster pumpkin was grown by Joe Jutras, of North Scituate, R.I.

“There is something magical about seeing giant pumpkins. It takes me back to being a child visiting the pumpkin patch,” said Jesse Collins, a co-chair of the weigh-offs for the past six years. “And watching people’s faces when they see these giants (even when it’s only in photos), makes me so happy. I love that we’ve been able to share the giant pumpkins with the community.”

Thirteen pumpkins and one giant green squash were entered from 12 growers who’d traveled from across the region. The states of Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Connecticut were represented in this year’s contest.

The 1,954-pound pumpkin that Jutras grew to win the top prize eclipsed the previous record of 1,864 pounds. Another Rhode Islander, Steve Sperry, came in second at more than 1,846 pounds.

Other giant vegetables that were weighed or measured included field pumpkins, marrow, and long gourds. The green squash category had one entry from Steve Maydan, of Ridgefield, that hit the scale at 521 pounds. Maydan also was awarded the Howard Dill plaque for the prettiest pumpkin.

“Growing pumpkins started out as something fun to do for our kids. But when I found out about giant pumpkins it took a whole new meaning,” Maydan said. “Then discovering there was a weigh-off and competition, it became a challenge I couldn't pass up.”

Maydan has co-chaired the event for the last six years, and is the president of the Connecticut Giant Pumpkin Growers Club, which sponsors the annual contest.

Maydan said that over the years his interest in growing extremely large vegetables has, well, grown larger.

“When I found out that they grow giant green squash and long gourds, I said I would never try that. But I won a weigh-off for the squash in 2011. And built a trellis to try long gourds and won the first prize for longest in 2016.

“It’s definitely fun and a great hobby,” he said. “I can provide seeds to anyone who wants to try it next year.”

Although a festival was not possible this year, the turnout of growers and entries exceeded the results of the past few years.

Maydan said the Giant Pumpkin Growers Club is looking forward to partnering with a Ridgefield organization to get next year’s event back to being “a festival townspeople can attend, with offers to support for local businesses through sponsorships and on-site vendor exhibits, food, and entertainment.”

Interested organizations may contact Steve Maydan and the Connecticut Giant Pumpkin Growers Club at ctpumpkins@gmail.com.