Mar 17, 2008

A giant pumpkin weighing 379.5 kg ensured an easy win, and prize money to the value of R10 000, for Drikus Kleinhans from Sasolburg who competed against more than 40 other pumpkin growers for the 2008 Giant Pumpkin Champion crown at the Shoprite Checkers Giant Pumpkin Competition held in Pniel on 15 March 2008.

As the Shoprite Checkers’ Giant Pumpkin Competition is held in association with the Boland Giant Pumpkin Growers Association, who in turn are registered with the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, all pumpkin weights verified at the event are recognized as official in terms of international giant pumpkin records. The 2008 winning pumpkin - that broke all previous competition records – therefore now also holds the official title as the largest South African and African Giant Pumpkin.

The second prize of R5 000 was awarded to Billy Griffiths who brought his 250 kg pumpkin all the way from Hopefield on the West Coast, while her 202.5 kg pumpkin positioned Alta Goosen from Stellenbosch in third place with a cash prize of R2 000.

Pniel’s own Freddy Simpson, with his beautiful red pumpkin, won R500 in Shoprite Checkers vouchers and a Freshmark product hamper for the most attractive pumpkin. The award for most akward looking pumpkin went to Maureen Plaatjies who received a Freshmark hamper and R300 in Shoprite Checkers vouchers for her very lumpy and asymmetrical entry.

Contests for pumpkin growers competing on size are very popular all over the world and just last year a new record was set up in Rhode Island in the United States with a pumpkin of 766 kilograms! In the Western Cape the period from September to April is peak time for pumpkin growing and to celebrate this, Shoprite Checkers hosted its own giant pumpkin competition to find the 2008 Giant Pumpkin Champion.

The competition kicked off in September 2007 when Shoprite Checkers invited any pumpkin grower who believed he or she could grow a pumpkin of phenomenal size to register for the competition. Entrants received seeds and growers kits provided by the Boland Giant Pumpkin Growers Association, and were advised on how to take good care of their pumpkins till judging day.

The Shoprite Checkers Giant Pumpkin Competition proved to be a fun and exciting day for the whole family with entertainment by Soli Philander (MC), Desmond Wells, Sharon Janse van Rensburg, Morne Meyer & the Fireball band, and Rooies.

On photo right: (From left to right) Billy Griffiths (2nd place winner), Johan van Deventer (General Manager of the Shoprite Group’s fresh produce procurement department), Alta Goosen (3rd place winner), Solly Philander and Drikus Kleinhans (Giant Pumpkin Champion) with the winning 379.5 kg giant pumpkin.

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