Oley Community Fair hosts Pumpkin Patch weigh off

Terry Lash standing with hopeful pumpkin entry. Submitted photo

Monster pumpkins will amaze spectators at the Oley Community Fair Pumpkin Patch weigh off Wednesday Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Grim’s Orchard Family Farms, cash prizes will be larger this year than any time in the fair’s sixty-eight year history.

Six lucky pumpkin growers will take home cash prizes ranging from $500 down to twenty-five dollars. However, to one lucky grower of the “nicest” pumpkin will get a gift card to Andre Meat Market and Farm.

Kevin Bieber, President of the Oley Community Fair felt it was time to step this year’s Pumpkin Patch up after visiting a few other similar events. With pumpkins growing to colossal sizes the world’s record being a two-thousand pounder and last year’s fair winner nearing 500lbs the stage where they were once housed will not be large or strong enough to hold the gigantic gourds. This year the patch will get its very own tent.

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To grow pumpkins of such proportion is no easy undertaking. The process requires daily record keeping, soil testing and the perfect mix of fertilizers and pesticides. Although the chemical combination renders the pumpkins inedible they are no less wondrous to behold. Most participants in the weigh off spend the last few weeks of growing crossing their fingers. Pumpkins tend to rot unexpectedly and are often at the mercy of the elements and animals.

Local grower Terry Lash is known by his neighbors as, “The guy who grows big pumpkins,” but for as many as he has grown, Lash has lost just as many. He admits it a little heartbreaking to lose one only weeks before a big competition. This year he has lost three. “I don’t worry about winning, I’m always just happy to make it to the weigh-off,” said Lash. Last year Lash grew an award winning 745lb pumpkin, he is not yet willing to speculate on the size of the biggest pumpkin in his patch currently, but he is hopeful that if his orange beast makes it to the fair it will beat his own best record.

The pumpkins will be kept on display for the duration of the fair for those who cannot make it to the weigh-off. Specifications for pumpkin entries are very clear, fair organizers recommend reading the rules very carefully before entering the contest.

To learn more about this and other fair events, visit www.oleyfair.org.