Boats … made from pumpkins? - Soundings Online

Boats … made from pumpkins?

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OCT. 24 — Most people around this time of year are carving faces into pumpkins — others are carving them into boats.

During the weekend of Oct. 13 and 14, the pumpkin regatta of Windsor, Nova Scotia, on LakePesaquid drew 10,000 spectators to a town of 3,700, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

For residents of Windsor, paddling around in huge pumpkins has been a tradition over the past eight years. With pumpkin weigh-off contests becoming passé, local farmer Danny Dill, 43, suggested the pumpkin boat races, according to an article.

“Nobody believed it could be done,” said Dill in the report. “They looked at me like I had three eyes.”

The town had approached Dill to find a new way to capitalize on the history of the birthplace of giant pumpkin growing, according to the article. Despite skepticism, it has grown from five entries to 54 this year divided into two categories: one race for those with kayak paddles, and a small one for — if you can believe it — motorized pumpkin boats, of which there were four.

The race has now inspired others from Cooperstown, N.Y., to Elk Grove, Calif., to have similar events, and some farmers are even growing their giant pumpkins to be better and faster on the water. Windsor resident Leo Swimmer, 72, and five-time defending champion, grows his pumpkins specifically to be boats, rolling them up on their stems in the hot summer months forcing them to grow flat, according to the article. A week before the race, he picks a few out and opens them up with a saw and crowbar. With help from his son and nephew, he uses custom-built scraping tools to thin down the pumpkin’s walls, pulling out hundreds of pounds of pumpkin to keep the weight down.

This year, he and his 600-pound fruit won the race again, receiving a ribbon, $200 check and a carved wooden pumpkin with silver plaques naming past winners, according to the article.

— Elizabeth Ellis