By Lily Rothman
October 16, 2014

AUTUMN

Gourd Almighty

Is competitive giant-pumpkin farming a sport? An art? An innate talent? Whatever it is, it’s growing–pun intended. The Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, Mass., recently celebrated its 30th annual weigh-off by crowning a 1,900-lb. beast–heavier than a Smart car–reared by Hiram Watson of Farmington, N.H., and several runners-up, including the 1,710-lb. specimen shown above. It took nearly a century to get from the 400-lb. record set at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair to a thousand-pounder, but top pumpkin weights have more than doubled in the past two decades. The hobby now boasts an estimated 10,000 participants worldwide. Sure, thousands of dollars in prize money is at stake, but Topsfield Fair’s general manager James O’Brien says that’s not what attracts the growers who compete each year. Rather, it’s pumpkin pride. “I mean, who wants a jack-o’-lantern that weighs 2,000 lb.?” he says. “It’s all about the bragging rights.”

The Topsfield winner in 1984 was about 400 lb. “Now,” O’Brien jokes, “they’re the size of Volkswagens.”

A pale color like this is common for a giant pumpkin

For more about the race to grow big pumpkins, visit time.com/pumpkins

THE WEEK

BATMAN BECAME BIRDMAN

GOYA SHOWS US A WORLD WHERE WITCHES GATHER, BULLS FLY AND SATAN PRESIDES AS A GIANT HE-GOAT.

PAGE 48

Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

This appears in the October 27, 2014 issue of TIME.

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