Fall kicks off with Utah's giant pumpkin contest

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LEHI — For Mountain Green resident Matt McConkie, growing pumpkins has been a lifelong love.

“As a young boy, in our family garden behind the house, I would always try to grow the biggest pumpkin, even though I didn’t know giant pumpkins was, like, a thing,” McConkie said. “It really has been as long as I can remember (that) I’ve loved them.”

McConkie first began growing pumpkins competitively in 2008, winning the award of the largest pumpkin in the state in 2010, 2011 and 2014.

“I’ve enjoyed the process of trying to come up with new and inventive ways to grow a bigger pumpkin every year,” McConkie said. “Ten years ago, if you had grown a 1,000-pound pumpkin, it would’ve been absolutely amazing. Today, it takes 2,000 pounds to get people to really raise an eyebrow.”

To achieve growing pumpkins at such a great weight, McConkie uses specially-made compost and researches the ancestry of seeds to see which came from the largest pumpkins.

“We track the genealogy of other large pumpkins that have been grown worldwide,” he said. “We tend to breed big pumpkins with other breeds of big pumpkins, and they get even larger and more dense.”

McConkie will once again be participating in Utah’s Giant Pumpkin Growers 13th Annual Weigh Off, held on Saturday at Thanksgiving Point. With the help of a crane, the pumpkin will be picked and transported from Ogden to Lehi.

Following the competition, McConkie plans on saving the seeds from this gourd to grow for next season. He will also carve the pumpkin into a Halloween-themed figure. The walls of the pumpkin, which range from eight to 12 inches thick, "are so thick you can sculpt them like a statue, so that’s what we’re gonna do with this one."

McConkie also uses leftover large pumpkins to crush cars for charity.

“We get cars donated to us for the purpose of smashing them,” McConkie said. “We’ll pick a local charity or a local family that’s in need and we use our pumpkin smash event to benefit people in need.”

McConkie plans to use hold this year's charity drive with a second large pumpkin he has.

“A 1500-pound pumpkin will smash up a car pretty good,” McConkie said.

This contest will be held at Thanksgiving Point, 3003 N. Thanksgiving Way in Lehi. Judging begins at 10 a.m. and goes to 3 p.m.


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