by Rachel Hunter
The 2019 Gouverneur Pumpkin Festival was a smash hit this past weekend at the Gouverneur Fairgrounds. This was the eighth annual event, presented by the Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair Association and the Gouverneur Area Chamber of Commerce.
It was also sponsored by RSI Roofing Co., Gouverneur Garden Club, Aubuchon Hardware, Community Health Center of the North Country, and Peace of Mind Home Inspection Services.
The giant pumpkin weigh-off contest was won by the sole entry, a 435-pounder grown by Lyle Hotis of Gouverneur. Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair directors used a crane scale to determine an accurate weight. Festival-goers saw the giant pumpkin drop from a tremendous height during the Second Giant Pumpkin Drop on Sunday, September 29. Mr. Hotis also grew at 285-pounder that was used for the First Giant Pumpkin Drop on Saturday, September 28.
The crowd watched in amazement as the giant pumpkins were lifted by a RSI Roofing Co. crane, operated by Barry Turner of Gouverneur (who has volunteered his time since the inaugural Gouverneur Pumpkin Festival to make the event a success).
On both Saturday and Sunday, a giant pumpkin was released by the pull of ropes handled by various fair directors. In mere moments, the eyes of all the people in attendance went wide as the giant pumpkin smashed into smithereens on the landing below. Pumpkin, water, and numbered golf balls then flew all over the grounds.
Over 700 tickets were sold this weekend for the Giant Pumpkin Drops. Each entrant took a number, corresponding to a numbered golf ball that was put into the giant pumpkin before the drop. The top three golf balls that travelled the furthest were then determined, and the winners announced. Big cash payouts were promised, and the local winners were not disappointed.
The winners of the First Giant Pumpkin Drop were as follows: The top prize ($300) went to Wesley Besaw of Gouverneur, whose ball travelled 85 feet, 3 inches. The second prize ($200) went to Claudia Moulton whose ball travelled 62 feet, 1 inch. The third prize ($100) went to Courtney Hays, whose ball travelled 57 feet, 6 inches.
The results of Second Giant Pumpkin Drop will be released once they are made available to the Gouverneur Tribune Press.
The winner of the 2019 Gouverneur Pumpkin Festival’s Guess The Pumpkin’s Weight Contest was Art Mason of Brier Hill. He guessed 437 pounds on Mr. Hotis’ pumpkin, which weighed in at 435 pounds.
William Stamper of Russell won the drawing for the Gouverneur Area Chamber of Commerce’s basket raffle.
The winner of the 50/50 raffle drawing was Manny Laso of Canton, who won $61.
The 2019 Gouverneur Pumpkin Festival was complete with a wealth of fun activities and events for both the young and young-at-heart.
On both Saturday and Sunday, vendor displays and a craft show was held outside on the Gouverneur Fairgrounds and inside in the 4-H youth building. Many people commented that they were impressed by the number of vendors participating this year.
On Saturday, the auxiliary to Silas Wainwright Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6338 held its Second VFW Auxiliary Annual Freedom Festival. Members were there to provide information about the various programs that they do throughout the year to support veterans, auxiliary members and local youth. All were invited to stop by and learn about scholarship programs the Auxiliary supports and sponsors locally, the VFW National Home for Children, this year' special project (America's VetDogs), and to find out eligibility requirement to join the VFW Auxiliary.
There was entertainment offered both days inside the FFA Building with appearances by the Matune Creek Band and Steelin’ Country. Many toe-tapping country and bluegrass hits were performed for the audience’s enjoyment.
Children were also invited to “ride the Cow Train,” a free ride that was created with the help of students at Southwest Career and Technical Education Center in Fowler. It had its first Pumpkin Festival appearance in 2018.
The Gouverneur Recreation Center also brought a variety of children’s activities for all to enjoy, including the following: crafts, a scavenger hunt, carnival games, Pumpkin Plinko, and much more.
Local children also enjoyed playing on the bounce house, obstacle course and huge slide that was on site during the entire 2019 Gouverneur Pumpkin Festival.
Many also enjoyed the wagon rides around the Gouverneur Fairgrounds, made possible by Bango Valley Percherons in Richville.
Food vendors – Mullins, Cotton Candy N More, and Nibble’s Snackery – were on site both days.
On Saturday, the Gouverneur Garden Club held its annual mum and bake sale to the great enjoyment of the various festival-goers. More plants and baked goods were available for sale on Sunday. The booth also featured a raffle for a framed painting by local artist, Nancy Holdstock of Gouverneur. The results of this drawing will be announced once they are made available to the Gouverneur Tribune Press.
The Fourth Annual Ripathon Fitness Event was held on Sunday morning at the Giant Pumpkin Drop Area. A worship service, conducted by the First United Methodist Church of Gouverneur, drew dozens of local residents to the Gouverneur Fairgrounds, and it was held in the new cattle barn.
About 200 chicken barbecue dinners were sold at noon on Sunday. The chef-in-charge was Fair Director Dave Bishop of DeKalb, who was assisted by many other fair directors throughout the morning hours.
A Pumpkin Cruise-In Classic Car Show drew many car enthusiasts to the Gouverneur Fairgrounds on Sunday, September 29. See related story inside this edition.
Face painting and temporary tattoos were available to all the children in attendance, due to the generous sponsorship received from the Community Health Center of the North Country.
All proceeds from the 2019 Gouverneur Pumpkin Fest were directed towards the building maintenance fund for the fairgrounds.