There is a new pumpkin king in PEI and his name is Eddie Shaw.
The Charlottetown grower set a new record for a pumpkin weighed on PEI during the annual pumpkin weigh-off held over the Thanksgiving weekend. Shaw's entry tipped the scales at 1,331.5 pounds, smashing the old record of 1,208 set by Clifford Picketts in 2008, by a wide margin.
While it turned out to be a good year for growing pumpkins, the weatherman refused to cooperate for the weigh-off itself. Cold winds and single digit temperatures resulted in one of the smallest crowds to take part in the holiday tradition in recent memory.
"It was cold at the start of the year and it is cold at the end," said Gordon Aten, president of the PEI Giant Pumpkin Growers Association, referring to the late spring which delayed planting for many growers. Shaw said he was not able to plant until July, and Aten said it was the same story for most growers.
However, it was still better than 2014, when Hurricane Arthur struck the crop and there were no entries over the 1000 pound mark for the first time in a number of years. This time around there were two, as William Van Schuppen took second place with a 1,024 pound entry. In fact, the third and fourth place entries this year both weighed more than the 2014 winner.
Shaw contributes his win in part to good breeding, noting the seeds for the champion came from a winner south of the border that weighed over 1,800 pounds. He is not sure what he will do with the seeds from his winning entry yet.
While Eddie had taken part in the competition in the past, he had taken several years off. He takes home a trophy named in honour of the late Dr. Jim Murphy, the Charlottetown dentist who started the competition at Silver Bells Christmas tree farm.
Alan Aten had the top squash in the competition at 616 pounds followed by Evelyn Mellish at 515.5 pounds and Charles Aten at 462 pounds.