At 8 o’clock on a cool Tualatin weekend morning, trucks hauling giant pumpkins started to arrive at the Lake at Tualatin Commons.
Soon after, members of the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers were busy forklifting these giant pumpkins and lining them up for their Annual Terminator Weigh-Off — just one of many festivities that took place during the daylong 9th Annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta.
From weigh-offs, to a race across the lake in giant pumpkins, to a pie-eating contest and more, participants enjoyed a variety of family-friendly activities and entertainment.
During the pumpkin weigh-off competition, the giant squashes were inspected to make sure everything was on the up-and-up.
“We’re trying to keep people from cheating,” said judge Mike Walton. “We’re looking for soft spots or holes that could be injected with water with a hypodermic needle.”
After the inspection, each pumpkin was carefully placed on a scale to be weighed. Giant pumpkins that were going to be used as boats in the regatta race were moved into the lake via crane, including Steve Daletas’ 1,531-pound pumpkin, which won this year’s weigh-off contest.
Growers then got busy carving and scooping out the pumpkins to create racing boats. They even had to dive head first into their pumpkins to scoop out all of the seeds.
This year’s regatta featured four different races. Some races involved the test of speed, while others required participants to collect balls or flags in the lake. Competitors included the Giant Pumpkin Growers, members of Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden, participants from the public and many others.
In one of the speed races, Brent Savage, vice president of Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers, won first place and a special guest, Koji Ueno, a Japanese national champion giant pumpkin grower, took second place.
“Good genetics, great soil, great weather and hundreds of hours,” answered Savage, when asked what it takes to grow great giant pumpkins.
“You have to spend a lot of time to make nice, big, giant pumpkins,” said Ueno, who gets up at 4 a.m. every day to take care of his pumpkins before he goes to work, including watering, weeding and getting rid of bugs.
It seems as if everyone’s hard work paid off both for the participants and the spectators.
“We had thousands of people who had really a great time, having some fun watching giant pumpkins paddle around the lake,” said Carl Switzer, Parks & Recreation Manager of the City of Tualatin. “It was a great day.”