Expect giant gourds at pumpkin festival

Joel Holland knows giant pumpkins.

In his 30 years of growing, the Sumner farmer has carefully nurtured 40 pumpkins weighing more than 1,000 pounds.

One of them — a 1,505-pound mammoth he grew in 2009 — set the record in Washington state.

“This year might be the year that someone breaks it,” Holland said.

“It takes a better-than-average summer for the pumpkins to reach that size, and this has been a real warm summer.”

Farmers from across the state will meet in Mount Vernon on Saturday to compete for the most gargantuan gourd at this year’s Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival.

Last year, Holland took home the grand prize with a giant pumpkin weighing 1,281.5 pounds.

The former world record holder won’t be back to defend his title at this year’s festival, but a warm summer means even bigger entries for other local growers.

Families can watch farmers weigh in at the third annual festival, featuring harvest-themed activities such as pony rides, face painting, farm animals, free carnival games, toad races, live music and food.

Growers of the nine biggest pumpkins will win cash prizes.

There will also be a giant cabbage competition, and exhibits with other giant vegetables, children’s pumpkins and giant sunflowers.

The festival goes from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Christianson’s Nursery, 15806 Best Road, Mount Vernon.

Admission is free, but there is a charge for some activities.

For more information, visit www.christiansonsnursery.com.

Ashley Stewart: 425-339-3037; astewart@heraldnet.com.

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