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Ottertail man wins pumpkin weigh-off with 798-pound 'baby'

798-pound pumpkin

Dave Hawes, of Ottertail, is the winner of this year's Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off.

Tipping the scales at 798 pounds, the pumpkin beat out its closest competition by 50 pounds. There were 13 entries in all, with most weighing more than 300 pounds

The weigh-off was part of Ottertail Pumpkin Fest, held Saturday, Oct. 15 at the Williams Company Store in downtown Ottertail.

Hawes said the secret to his success includes "good seeds," along with rich soil containing com-post and cow manure. Testing the soil quality is important, he said, as is regularly watering the plant.

He credits his son with getting the growing process started. Though relatively new to it, Hawes seems to be enjoying himself: "I think we get goofier as we get older," he said with a laugh, poking fun at himself for his unusual new hobby.

Last year, Hawes grew a 400-pound pumpkin; he knew this year's would be bigger, but he didn't know he'd nearly double that. He said the giant pumpkin he grew this year ballooned by as much as 30 pounds a day.

The Pumpkin Fest has been held for the last 11 years; this was the first year of the pumpkin weigh-off. Hawes predicted that next year's contest will be even bigger, attracting more entries.

"Lots of people are getting into it," he said of growing giant pumpkins.

He also humbly admitted that he's got a long way to go to beat the world record, which right now sits at an enormous 1,810 pounds, held by a man in New Richmond, Wis.

"This is really just a baby," Hawes said of his pumpkin.

People at the festival were able to vote for their favorite giant pumpkin, as well as the one they thought was the ugliest.

The pumpkin weigh-off was a highlight of the festival, though there were many more attractions. Kids enjoyed face painting, pumpkin carving and horse-drawn cart rides through town. There was also a pie bake sale, live entertainment and food and refreshments on site. Hundreds of people turned out for the event.

Proceeds from the Pumpkin Fest will go to the Ottertail County School Backpack program.