A science teacher from New London shattered the Minnesota record for giant pumpkins on Saturday.
Chad Revier won $1,000 and the respect of giant-pumpkin growers everywhere for his oblong, bright orange gourd. It registered a whopping 1,427.5 pounds at the 4th annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off in downtown Stillwater.
The previous state record was 1,258 pounds.
"It feels pretty good," Revier said. "It was nice to see that number come across."
Moments earlier, as organizers prepared to weigh his pumpkin, he stood somber-faced and with his arms folded across his chest. Waiting. Hoping.
Two men squatted down and secured a thick, green rope at the base. Then, they attached a black harness over the top and used it to raise the pumpkin off a wooden pallet. "Are you nervous, Chad," asked Matt Marose, one of the event co-founders.
"A little bit," Revier said.
This was only his second year of growing giant pumpkins, and he still considered himself a rookie. A gardener, he got interested in the giant pumpkin hobby through a website called bigpumpkins.com. There, he picked up tips on how to grow gigantic pumpkins, using the Atlantic Giant genetic wonder seeds that have spawned a subculture of giant growers.
A man wearing a neon vest whose job it was to inspect the pumpkins for cracks or holes, lay down on the ground and craned his neck to judge Revier's pumpkin.
According to the contest rules, set by the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth -- a national organization that governs such contests -- any pumpkin can be disqualified if it is damaged. That's because in years past in other parts of the country, people have been known to drill holes in their pumpkins and fill them with water to make them weigh more at contests.
The inspector gently tapped the bottom and sides of the giant fruit and then shouted: "Good to go!"
Revier gave a faint smile.
The inspector and the two other men then lowered the pumpkin onto the square, blue scale and all eyes focused on the large, digital display next to the scale. The numbers stopped at 1,427.5.
Revier walked over to the scale, received a congratulatory handshake from Marose and then, like all the other contestants before him, stood proudly next to his pumpkin while someone snapped a photo.
He brought another, even bigger pumpkin to the contest but it was already so rotten that the bottom fell out on the scale, making it ineligible. It weighed 1,501 pounds.
Allie Shah • 651-298-1550