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Smashing pumpkin arrives in one piece

IT was lovingly nurtured with bags of water and sugar to maintain its weight as it made its long trip across the Atlantic.

Weighing in at a hefty 500kgs and resembling a Cinderella coach, size really does matter when it comes to giant pumpkin competitions.

The latest contender has arrived in Co Cavan to compete for the heaviest pumpkin at the annual Virginia Pumpkin Festival this weekend.

But this entry, which was grown in Wisconsin in the US by Dan Bowles, already has an even heavier challenger.

Twin brothers Ian and Stuart Patton from Lymington in the UK have already dispatched their entry to the competition -- a pumpkin weighing in at more than 680kgs.

Both bruisers, however, are some way short of the world record -- America's Chris Stevens holds the current title with a pumpkin weighing more than 820kgs.

Up to 15 giant pumpkins will take part in the weekend weigh-in, with contenders coming from the UK, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Austria, the US and Ireland.

Last night Ian Patton said he and Stuart were in with a good chance of winning the competition with their entry.

"We don't really have any secrets to growing giant pumpkins. It's all down to really good seeds and it's a bit like a racehorse. You wouldn't win the derby if you crossed a racehorse with a donkey," he told the Irish Independent.

More than 20,000 people are expected in Virginia this weekend for the festival, which also includes a gig by singer Imelda May.

Irish Independent