Giant pumpkin and watermelons break State Fair records

pumpkinThe State Fair of Virginia records for the largest pumpkin and watermelon have been broken!

The competitions were held Sept. 27. Hank Houston of Spotsylvania County grew the largest entry in this year’s Giant Pumpkin Contest; his pumpkin weighed 1,203.2 pounds. The previous record, set in 2007, was 1,138 pounds for a pumpkin grown by William Layton of Nelson County.

The walls of giant pumpkins are very thick, said Kathryn Burruss, State Fair horticulture superintendent. “The pumpkins were all grown this summer. Most were planted in May, but a couple of the smaller large pumpkins were planted in early August after a first effort failed due to rot or some other natural issue.”

Burruss said the pumpkins are bred to be large.

“The growers work with their pumpkins daily, either feeding them or inspecting for signs of disease or insects. They allow only one pumpkin to grow on a vine, and they prune that vine so all of the growth goes toward that one pumpkin.”

J.R. Brent of Lancaster County had the largest entry in this year’s Giant Watermelon Contest; it weighed 218.5 pounds. The second-place watermelon weighed 198.1 pounds and was grown by Davis Wells of Hanover County. Both melons broke the previous record of 190.5 pounds, which was set in 2007 by Wells.

The State Fair opened Sept. 26 and will run through Oct. 5 at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County. Details are available at


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