'Weird' growers weigh giant pumpkins

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LEHI — They aren't exactly ordinary vegetables. Many of the pumpkins lining the parking lot at Thanksgiving Point tip the scales at more than a thousand pounds.

The name of the game is competition. Members of the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers haul in their harvest, each hoping to outweigh the other. While these vegetables are certainly strange, the proprietors of these pumpkins aren't exactly average either.

"They say, 'That's really weird,'" said David Bradley. "And then, the sad thing is, my wife rolls her eyes, going, 'Oh, no. My husband's now going to give a 20-minute lecture on how to grow a big pumpkin.'"

"Most definitely, people think this is weird," said Lindsay Bench.

"In my neighborhood, I'm known as the 'Pumpkin Man,'" said Bradley. "My grandkids call me 'Grandpa Pumpkin.'"

So what's the appeal? These pumpkins certainly aren't farmed for food.

"If you ate these, you'd probably grow a third eye," said Bench. "Because of the food, the fish, the chemicals, the things that we feed them."

Perhaps these people are drawn to their pumpkins because of the instant gratification.

"These things can grow overnight, and you can see it," said Bench. "Leave during the day, come home and it's bigger."

(Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

"Really, with the thoroughbred seeds, you can put them in your backyard, and you'll get a 300- or 400-pound pumpkin," said Bradley.

"It all started with Howard Dill, a guy who started growing pumpkin seeds," said Bench. "Growing a little bit bigger and a little bit bigger ... the genetics just keep getting more and more amazing."

Many, like Bench, don't even own a farm; they simply grow these pumpkins right in their yards.

"It doesn't take that much room," said Bradley. "There's a lot of people in the United States that'll grow a 10 x 15-sized pumpkin, which is pretty small because I grow 30x30, and they get them 700 or 800 pounds."

Size may be the end goal, but these growers gain something else. They come to compete and show off their bounties, but most have also harvested a large number of new friends, united by their love of oversized pumpkins.

"You get a whole group of friends that are amazing," said Bench. "It seems ridiculous, but once you do it, you can't stop."

For more information, visit http://www.utahpumpkingrowers.com/


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