Mar 11, 2009
A giant pumpkin weighing 295 kg ensured an easy win for 70-year old Johan du Plessis from Worcester who competed against 46 other pumpkin growers for the 2009 Giant Pumpkin Champion crown. The Shoprite Checkers Giant Pumpkin Competition was held at the Boland Agricultural school’s Harvest Festival in Paarl on 7 March 2009. Johan, a farmer from Eendrag farm in the Overhex, was surprised and overjoyed to walk away with the championship title and prize money to the value of R10 000, and ascribes his success in part to his great passion for growing organic vegetables.
The Shoprite Checkers Giant Pumpkin Competition is registered with the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth and all pumpkin weights verified at the event are recognized as official in terms of international giant pumpkin records. Johan’s impressive pumpkin weight, even though not heavy enough to beat the South African record of 379.5 kg set by Drikus Kleinhans at the 2008 Shoprite Checkers Giant Pumpkin Competition, will be listed with the other giants in the Pumpkin Commonwealth’s international Hall of Greats.
The second prize of R5 000 was awarded to a 198 kg pumpkin belonging to Jan Jooste from Stellenbosch, while his 146 kg pumpkin positioned Bertus Steyn from Sonop, Hamlet in third place with a cash prize of R2 000.
The award for most awkward looking pumpkin went to Herman Rossouw from Eendekuil who received R250 in Shoprite Checkers vouchers and a Freshmark hamper for his hefty, but very lumpy and lopsided 116.5 kg entry. Jan van Zyl from Wellington also won R250 in Shoprite Checkers vouchers and a Freshmark product hamper for the most attractive entry - a beautiful red, smooth and shiny 55 kg pumpkin.
The competition attracts interest from young and old alike. Jared Truter from Durbanville is only six years old, but already took part for the second time this year. In 2008 Jared boldly entered his first 13 kg “Giant Pumpkin”. This year, however, he proudly presented an inspiring 48.5 kg beauty that moved Jared up to 30th place overall – leaving 17 much more experienced pumpkin growers in the dust.
Contests for pumpkin growers competing on size are very popular all over the world. A new world record was set in 2007 in Rhode Island, 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 mark this, Shoprite Checkers hosted its own competition to find the Giant Pumpkin Champion.
The competition kicked off on 11 August 2008 when Shoprite Checkers invited pumpkin growers in the Western Cape who believed he or she could grow a pumpkin of phenomenal size to register for the competition. All the entrants received seeds and growers kits, and were urged 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 The Campbells, Rooies and Yodel King of the Cape, JJ Botha.