TOPSFIELD — The All New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off at the Topsfield Fair will forever be known as the place where the world’s first 1-ton pumpkin was weighed, as Ron Wallace of Greene, R.I., shattered a world record set at the Deerfield Fair only 24 hours before.
Wallace’s pumpkin managed to beat back a challenge by one grown in Topsfield by Woodrow “Woody” Lancaster, whose personal best of 1,649 pounds held the top spot for a few minutes before Wallace’s pumpkin was lifted onto the scale.
“If you are going to get beat,” Lancaster said, “get beat big.”
“It took six years to get back, but I’m back, baby,” yelled Wallace, pumping his fist with his thumb out as he stood atop the pallet that contained his 2,009-pounder. A throng of press and spectators gathered around as Wallace celebrated at end of last night’s weigh-off in the arena. All night, people posed with the behemoth that sat in the far end of the arena, with members of the New England Pumpkin Growers Association saying measurements were off the charts and foretold this could be the big one.
Before his pumpkin was weighed, Wallace said his chances were good and he was not nervous about it being a ton.
“By the measurements, it has a chance, but there is not much information on pumpkins this big, so who knows what it weighs, so,” Wallace said. Wallace said he had an inkling by the middle of August he had grown something special.
“Let’s hope it weighs more than a small car,” he said.
“Ronnie said it’s not over until it’s on the scale,” said his mother, Cathy, also of Greene, R.I.
Wallace’s pumpkin shattered the Topsfield Fair’s previous record of 1,689 pounds weighed in 2007 by Joe Jutras of North Scituate, R.I. His pumpkin held the world record back then.
Jutras, who wore a yellow cap and a jacket with the number 1,689 embroidered on the sleeve, stood by at last night’s weigh off, but did not bring an entry this year.
“I just had a bad year, I lost it.” Jutras said. “Neglect more than anything, I’m afraid. Too much time fishing and not enough time growing pumpkins.”
Wallace last held the world record with a 1,502-pounder weighed in 2006 in Rhode Island before being beat by Jutras the following year.
Wallace managed to beat a world record of 1,843.5 pounds set by Steve Geddes of Boscawen, N.H., on Thursday, according to the website bigpumpkins.com.
“Two thousand and nine, where are those checks,” proclaimed James O’Brien, Topfield Fair general manager, climbing atop tables and posing with Wallace and his father, Richard. All three men posed with oversized checks totaling $15,500: A $5,500 check for winning the competition and another $10,000 in prize money for weighing the first 1-ton pumpkin in the world at the fair’s annual weigh-off.
Wallace’s pumpkin was the last to be weighed in last night’s contest, but the runner-up last night was also grown in town.
Lancaster, of Topsfield, received rock star treatment for his personal best of 1,649 pounds. Like a pumpkin drinking water, Lancaster was given a few minutes to soak up the moment before Wallace’s giant was weighed.
“This was my easiest year ever. I had a new patch, it was pretty much weed-free,” said Lancaster, who lives in downtown Topsfield and is the maintenance supervisor of the Topsfield Housing Authority. His prior record is 1,247 pounds, and the highest he has ever placed was eighth.
“I think Ronnie’s got me, but I’m glad I got second,” Lancaster said even before Wallace’s pumpkin was weighed.
Another local who weighed his personal best with a 1,543.5 was Armand Michaud of Ipswich.
“God gave us good weather all year,” Michaud said.
Gloucester resident Bart Piscitello entered his first pumpkin in the competition, which weighed in at 794 pounds.