There’s a new record-setting winner among giant pumpkins of North Carolina State Fair fame.
A ginormous pumpkin weighing 1,965.5 pounds set the record Wednesday during the fair’s annual giant pumpkin competition.
The massive fruit, grown by Chris Rodebaugh of Lewisburg, West Virginia, beat out 20 other pumpkins to take the first-place prize.
In the giant watermelon competition, Andrew Vial of Liberty, also set a State Fair record with his 341-pound melon.
State Fair Manager Kent Yelverton congratulated the winners and said growers of giant fruit face several challenges in the process.
“Excessive heat, drought, too much rain, impacts from local wildlife can all impact these giants,” Yelverton said, according to a news release. “Just getting to the fair with a giant pumpkin or watermelon can be an adventure and achievement and we applaud all our winners today.”
Competition-winning fruits will remain at the State Fair’s Exposition Center for fair-goers and giant fruit enthusiasts to marvel at during the remainder of the fair, said Joseph Pitchford, a spokesperson for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The fair kicked off Oct. 14 and runs through Sunday, Oct. 24.
What’s the world record?
Even at nearly a ton, Rodebaugh’s pumpkin is still more than 700 pounds shy of the world’s heaviest pumpkin, a record held as of this month by Stefano Cutrupi of Italy, who grew a pumpkin that weighed 2,703 pounds, according to Pitchford.
The watermelon grown by Vial came far closer to beating the world record, however, weighing just 9 pounds less than the current world record-holder, according to the State Fair.
That watermelon, grown by Chris Kent of Sevierville, Tenn. and weighing 350.5 pounds, was certified as the world’s heaviest in October 2013.
The top three winners in this year’s State Fair giant fruit competitions will take home between $1.50 and $3 per pound for pumpkins, and between $3 and $6 per pound for watermelons, in prize money, respectively.
Pitchford said the State Fair has been holding giant pumpkin and watermelon competitions for decades — “essentially forever.”
“I don’t know that I can say it’s been here as far back as the first fair in 1853, simply because I don’t know that for certain, but these shows have been around longer than anyone can remember,” Pitchford said in an email.
Within the last decade, the fair’s giant pumpkin competition became recognized by Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, a regulatory body that sets standards and rules for competitions across the world.
That has allowed the fair to allow entries from outside of North Carolina, “which has resulted in even larger fruit being on display at the State Fair,” Pitchford said.
Since Rodebaugh is from West Virginia, his pumpkin isn’t considered a state record, Pitchford said. But for now, it is the heaviest pumpkin ever seen at North Carolina’s event.