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novice growers 560Winners of the Novice Grower award were sisters Rebecca (left) and Elizabeth Walker of Sarnia. They said their father gave them tips on how to grow their 725 pound pumpkin.

Megan Dunn, Saugeen Shores Hub

Approximately 30,000 people attended Port Elgin Pumpkinfest in its new downtown Port Elgin location, October 1 and 2, similar to 2015 attendance, organizers said Monday. Over the course of the weekend, two Canadian records were smashed, 400 classic cars lined Goderich Street and Tiverton’s Bob Mackenzie won the Tri-County Fred Weurth Memorial Award for the second year in a row with his record setting 1,548 pound pumpkin for Grey-Bruce-Huron, October 2.

See: Record breaking produce on day one

Master Grower, Port Elgin’s Doug Court, who was part of the festival’s first weigh-off competition at Coulter Parkette in 1986, said growers thought that Pumpkinfest 2016 was the best it’s ever been and were very happy with the new location.

See: Whose is bigger: Pumpkinfest through the ages

“The growers that I’ve been competing against for the last 20 years said it’s the best event they’ve ever attended for a world pumpkin weigh-off,” said Court, his sentiment was also echoed by grower Todd Kline, whose 1,877 pound pumpkin broke a Canadian Record, October 1 at the site.

“Our 30th year, I would rate it as one of the top events we’ve ever had. The amount of youth volunteerism was at an all-time high and the support of the community was just tremendous,” Court said, October 2. He added that most of the growers who came to Pumpkinfest set personal bests and they were more than pleased that new Canadian records had been set.

Court also noted that the buzz around the 1,877 pound pumpkin makes Canadian growers one-step closer to breaking the 2,000 pound mark that United States and some European countries have already surpassed.

Court said that the growers are now part of a community whose members are constantly in communication with one another. “We’re together all the time on the computer, we constantly text. There’s constant communication in respect to techniques and challenges we have, whether it’s disease or growing concerns.”

He also said that the last two months have been excellent for growing, putting them in in sharp contrast to the earlier summer months which consisted of many dry days. Court, who won awards at the local competition including his Long Gourd at 123.5 inches, and his Tomato at 3.67 pounds, still has a few things up his sleeve.

“I have watermelons still growing,” said Court, adding that they’re over 180 pounds currently. “I’m trying to get to that special classification of 200 pounds.” Court said that if one can establish 200 pounds in a watermelon, it equates to a Master Grower accomplishment.

Court plans on bringing a melon or two to Wellington, Ontario, another Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) sanctioned site, in the coming weeks. (Pumpkinfest is also a GPC sanctioned event.) Court brought a 86.42 pound melon to Pumpkinfest, where Michigan’s Marvin Mitchell’s melon came in just shy of the 200 pound mark with 199.5 pounds, October 1.

Following the Tri-County weigh-off October 2, prizes and awards were given out to both youth and adult growers. Under 18 growers included Lexi Twelves of Kitchener, Braeden and Courtney Ashton of Saugeen Shores, and sisters Elizabeth and Rebecca Walker of Sarnia, Ontario, who won the Novice Grower award. All winners received prize money as well as awards.

Marvin Mitchell donated a portion of his watermelon’s prize money back to Pumpkinfest and asked that the money go towards more prize money for Under 18 growers.

Pumpkinfest organizers were also very happy with how well the weekend went. Pumpkinfest Chair, Brad Scott said that he received a lot of positive feedback about the new price of admission, which went to $5 from a previous $10, as well as the new location.

“We had a really great weekend. The growers were happy and we had really good feedback from a lot of people surveyed. We still have room for improvement but the volunteers helped everything run smoothly,” said Scott.

The Pumpkinfest Board will soon begin planning for next year’s festival.

fred award 560For the second year in a row Bob Mackenzie of Tiverton won the Tri-County Fred Weurth Memorial Award. Pumpkinfest Chair Brad Scott presented the plaque to Mackenzie as well as a La-Z-Boy rocker recliner donated by Little’s Furniture in Port Elgin.

Ashton 560Braeden Ashton of Saugeen Shores as he accepted an award for growing the third largest sunflower face at Pumpkinfest, October 2.

pumpkin carv 560Six-year-old Michael Maloney of Paisley was one of the 30,000 people who attended the 30th annual Port Elgin Pumpkinfest in Saugeen Shores and enjoyed some of the free children’s activities such as pumpkin carving.

parker 560Parker Wirta of Southampton was a successful fisherman and even walked away with a prize while enjoying the midway at Port Elgin Pumpkinfest, October 2.

griffen brit 560Griffin and his mother Brittney Welsh of Saugeen Shores, before they were tossed around on one of the rides at the Pumpkinfest midway, October 2.

car show 560Organizers said that approximately 400 vehicles lines the streets of downtown Port Elgin for the Cinderella Classic Car Show, October 1.

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