by Sandy Wyman
It’s beginning to look a lot like…autumn in the North Country.Tthat was the case on Saturday, September 24 as the 5th annual Pumpkin Festival at the Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fairgrounds stepped into the limelight on the first day of the doings sponsored by the Fair Association and the Chamber of Commerce.
A pumpkin is a gourd, however, these giants of that genre could not find a home in the Pumpkin Patch of Charlie Brown fame so the next best place to be is right here in Gouverneur.
The popularity of growing these immense proportioned members of the winter squash!
All pumpkins are winter squash… mature fruit of certain species in the genus Cucurbita.
Characteristics commonly used to define “pumpkin” include smooth and slightly ribbed skin and deep yellow to orange color.
Circa 2005, white pumpkins had become increasingly popular in the United States. Other colors, including dark green (as with some oilseed pumpkins), also exist.
The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon (πέπων) that is Greek for “large melon” something round and large. The French adapted this word to pompon, which the British changed to pumpion and later American colonists changed that to the word that is used today, pumpkin.
“Giant pumpkins” are a large squash within the group of common squash Cucurbita Maxima that can exceed one ton (2,000 pounds) in weight.
The variety arose from the large squash of Chile after 1500 A.D through the efforts of botanical societies and enthusiast farmers.
In 1986 the United States extended protection for the giant squash.
In 2004, the restriction expired except for the requirement of indefinite use of the pseudonym “Dill’s Atlantic Giant” for squash fitting the specific parameters or the seeds thereof.
“Giant pumpkins” are orange variants of the giant squash.
Growers of these “pumpkins” often compete to see whose pumpkins are the most massive. Festivals are often dedicated to the pumpkin and these competitions.
Such now is the case for the annual festival right here in the North Country.
While the crowds began to assemble for the first day of the festival, there was a moment that took place when Travis Clemons of Croghan arrived with three giants of the squash variety to join some earlier gourds on display.
Lots of interested spectators enjoyed the off-lifting of the specimens through the auspices of Scooter Wetmore with fair directors watching traffic.
Back to the action on the fairgrounds.
When arriving at the entrance on Rock Island Road, the first sight to see was the crane already in place for the pumpkin drops donated complete with operator by RSI Roofing Company.
With camera in hand, this reporter followed the list of events and found many interesting activities among the numerous vendors and crafters set up in the 4-H Youth Building and on the midway set-up outdoors.
The chicken BBQ was already on the grills, children of all ages were soon caught up in the activities provided by the Gouverneur Recreation Center.
Draft horse rides with neighbor Harold Lowery showcased Peter and Babe, Belgian Drafts. They are magnificent and even close up with traffic and pats on their faces from many gentle hands, they take it all in “stride” so to speak.
Amid all that transpired on Saturday, in case you missed the Wildcat game on Saturday, I am here to inform everyone that it became an instant classic by defeating the Ogdensburg team with a score of 35-31, keeping the unbeaten streak alive.
The crowd gathered at this event was keeping ears to the commentary along with cheers and applause for the guys on the gridiron.
Then the hour was growing near for the first of two for dropping the giant orange pumpkins filled to the brim with numbered golf balls.
Soon the gourd was headed for its demise and the roar of the spectators heralded the end of the contest of whose golf ball went the farthest.
Winners on Saturday were Roger Bacon (first), Carol Dier (second) and John Miller (third).
Sunday winners in the second pumpkin drop were Bill Delorraine (first), Brian Blair (second) and Michelle Webb (third).
The Fair Association and Chamber of Commerce are to be commended for their efforts to provide Gouverneur and the surrounding area with wholesome entertainment for all to enjoy on a fall weekend in the North Country.
by Sandy Wyman