For most people, topping 1,000 pounds would be nothing to celebrate, but Jay Richard of Worland is ecstatic.
All three of Richard’s pumpkins are about to break the half-ton mark. This is a good thing when competing in a pumpkin contest.
Weight is the name of the game when it comes to the annual Wyoming State Pumpkin Championship Weigh-Off in Worland.
This is the Super Bowl for pumpkins in Wyoming. It’s not only the chance to break the state record — for fattest pumpkin — but Richard said Wyoming’s championship is better than surrounding states because once the pumpkins are weighed, they explode (see video below).
Three Weeks Away
This year’s championship is only three weeks away and will be held on Saturday, October 1 in Worland.
Richard, a competitive pumpkin grower, has been running the championship weigh-off for six years now. The contest started in 2011.
His 1,000-pounders aren’t close enough to topple the state record — which is 1,545 pounds — but a competitor of his likely will, he said.
“Barring disaster, Andy Corbin of Cheyenne is going to break the record this year,” Richard said.
Richard said he saw Corbin’s pumpkin last week and it’s “not one to trifle with.”
“It was as big as mine before mine imploded,” he said.
Richard knows something about disaster striking right before the big game.
His pumpkin weighed 1,631 pounds in 2021 but then the stem became infected and pumpkin goo started oozing out.
“The pumpkin rotted from growing over its vine,” he said sadly. “That was so disappointing.”
A stretch of cold weather in June slowed his current crop from growing. Richard said the temperature got as low as 26 degrees on June 13, which killed his chance for a championship in 2022.
The growing weather in Cheyenne, however, was conducive to producing heavy plants.
The overnight temperatures in June, the most critical month for growth, stayed warm. And the constant threat of hail never materialized.
“Andy’s been real quiet,” Richard said. “He’s not saying anything. He knows he’s got a winner.”
Although more than 1,000 people attended the championship weigh-off last year, the majority showed up toward the end of the competition.
That’s because after the weigh-off is over and awards are bestowed, many of the pumpkins are driven over to a football-sized field to meet their explosive end.
This is where Richard gets animated and barks orders like an SEC football coach.
He’s got a whole team in place. Each member has a different responsibility. All working together for destruction.
A massive 200-foot crane is positioned at the end of the field. One-by-one, the pumpkins are hoisted up in a canopy and elevated to maximum height.
And one-by-one, the pumpkins are dropped. And obliterated.
The crowd, like the cliche says, goes crazy.