TOPSFIELD — Since he was 11 years old, Alex Noel has been searching for the perfect pumpkin.
On Topsfield Fair’s opening night, the now-28 year-old from Pomfret, Connecticut, may have just found it.
Noel’s pumpkin, coming in at 2,294.5 pounds, outweighed all 29 that came to compete in this year’s Topsfield Fair Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off. The gigantic gourd also took broke the fair’s previous record for heaviest pumpkin, a title held by a 2,114-pounder grown last year by Ron Wallace of Greene, Rhode Island.
“It’s a good feeling,” Noel said of smashing the record and winning the weigh-off.
Right behind him were competitors Gary Vincent of Plainfield, Connecticut, with a 2,169.5-pounder and Woody Lancaster of Topsfield with a personal best of 2,116 pounds.
Originally from Norton, Massachusetts, Noel has been attending the Topsfield Fair since he was a kid.
“This is the first place that I ever came,” said Noel, “This is the place that inspired me to try doing this.”
For 18 years, with a few years off after college, Noel has been dedicated to growing the largest pumpkins possible.
“Its almost like he is raising a child,” laughed girlfriend Liz Sangerr. “He puts heating cables in the soil and he tucks them in with blankets at night.”
In addition to the glory and many handshakes, Noel received a check for $8,500 for his accomplishment.
When he isn’t growing award-winning pumpkins, Noel is a welder and blacksmith selling custom metal fabrications, hardware reproductions, and art pieces.
Friday night, after each weigh-off, competitors congratulated each other with a firm handshake and pat on the back. When Woody Lancaster, former winner and co-chairman of the event, weighed a personal best his grandchildren were ecstatic. Climbing on the behemoth of a pumpkin, Max Lancaster, 6, and Ryan, 6, looked down at the crowd below and waved in excitement.
“He had the highest weigh!” exclaimed Max. Lancaster had won the competition in 2017 with a pumpkin that weighed 2003.5 pounds.
“We don’t grow big ones,” Ryan said. But his brother anticipates it is in their future, as Max exclaimed, “but maybe next year
While each grower has their own tips and tricks to grow their massive pumpkins, they can all agree on one thing: It takes patience.
“It is a labor of love,” said Steve Sperry of Rhode Island, whose pumpkin weighing 1,782 pounds earned him eighth place. “There is a lot of time and effort that goes into this.”
“It is a sacrifice as they spend a lot of time growing and taking care of the pumpkins,” said wife Linda Sperry.
After the excitement had settled, Noel explained that the competition isn’t over.
“Go weigh the next one next week,” Noel shouted.
Noel will be bringing another one of his pumpkins to the Frerichs Farm Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Warren, Rhode Island, on Oct. 12.
Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-338-2527 or email@example.com.