Giant pumpkins weigh in Sunday at Ballard Park

Huge, heavy pumpkins — the big bruisers, some possibly nearing a ton — will be weighed in like prize fighters.

“Last year’s first-place winner was 1,864 pounds. That was a record for the Ridgefield event,” said Steve Maydan, co-chairman of RIdgefield’s fourth annual giant pumpkin weigh-off.

“Top prize for pumpkins is $3,000,” he said. “Second place is $1,000.”

The event is in Ballard Park this Sunday, Sept. 24, from 10 to 3, rain or shine. Unloading of the huge pumpkins begins at 10, and the weighing starts at noon.

The day also promises all kinds of farm-related and autumnal fun. There’ll be farm animals in the park to see and meet, farm stands with produce and baked goods, children’s crafts and activities, a pumpkin-carving demonstration, a decorated pumpkin contest, country music, shopping, and food trucks.

People will be able to meet and talk to the growers of the giant pumpkins and squash.

Maydan grows giant pumpkins himself, and plans on entering the contest. He wouldn’t predict how big the pumpkins in the contest will be.

“You never really know. The growers don’t really say,” Maydan said.

“We usually get about 10 or 12 pumpkins. We have a few other categories, like the giant green squash or “long gourd” category.

The third-, fourth- and fifth-biggest pumpkins will get prizes of $500, $250 and $150, and the heaviest green squash in the “long gourd” event will win $500.

“There could be 20 contestants. Some will bring a pumpkin and a squash, which I’m going to do,” Maydan said.

Entries are expected from around Connecticut, as well as Rhode Island, New York, and Pennsylvania.

“We usually have a guy from Rhode Island who’s had the world record a couple of times — Ron Wallace is his name,” Maydan said.

“Another grower lives on Prudence, Island, RI. He’s got to take a ferry with the pumpkin to get it to the weigh-off. He’s been to our weigh-off several times.”

On the scale

With pumpkins weighing hundreds or possibly thousands of pounds being transported to the park and weighed there, the logistics can get interesting.

A forklift loaned by Ridgefield Supply will be used to place the pumpkins on a big scale to weigh them.

“It’s a platform scale. It sits on the ground, it’s about four feet by four feet. We put just the pumpkins on the scale that shows the weight,” Maydan said.

“We’re also going to have a large digital display so everyone can see — it’s going to come out in nice big red numbers.”

Pumpkins of less intimidating stature will be judged for how they’ve been decorated. Anyone may bring a home-decorated pumpkin, drop if off between 10 and 11 at the Chamber of Commerce tent in the park, and judging will be “by event attendees”  between 11 and 1:45. Winners will be announced to the crowd toward the end of the weigh-off.

Animals and food trucks

Ever wondered how pumpkins can be rendered into exquisite ugliness, surreal spookiness or charming cuteness? Well, there’ll be a pumpkin-carving demonstration.

Farm animals that people can meet will come from Henny Penny Farm in Ridgebury and Guardians Farm from the Naugatuck River Valley, which has Nigerian dwarf goats.

Farm stands in the park will include Ridgefield-based Veronica’s Garden and Hayfields from nearby North Salem. Aiev Olive Oil, owned by the Manolakakis Family Groves LLC of Ridgefield, will be selling olive oil “from our native village of Metamorfosi in Lakonia, Greece.”

Musicians from The School of Rock will play from 10 to 11:30, and the six-piece “country party band” The Boondocks will play from noon to 3.

Food trucks expected at the event include the Zawack Shack, which parks regularly off Route 7 near the Ridgefield-Redding line, the ‘Let’s Eat Donuts!’ truck from Donut Crazy, which has stores in Bridgeport, Shelton and Stratford, and Keifer’s Kettle Korn, which offers popcorn in varieties that range from traditional to jalapeno to garlic maple pepper.

This year’s pumpkin weigh off, Ridgefield’s fourth, is presented by the Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce together with the Connecticut Giant Pumpkin Growers Club and Ridgefield Supply Company.