Economy

Another Alaska upset: 1,101-pound pumpkin breaks record

The new record to beat is 1,101 pounds in the giant pumpkin contest at the Alaska State Fair.

On Wednesday, Dale Marshall of Anchorage beat the old state record of 1,019 pounds, set in 2006 by this year's second place finisher, John "J.D." Megchelsen.

"A lot of hard work finally paid off," Marshall said.

At 2:30 in the afternoon, a crowd gathered around a small crane outside the barn at the fair. The crane had a scale on it, and lifted up the huge pumpkin, which was attached by a metal contraption and ropes. The crowd cheered.

"One thousand one hundred and one," shouted Marshall.

Ten years ago, there was no such thing as the giant pumpkin contest in Alaska. The largest pumpkin at the fair was about 150 pounds and was included in the "giant vegetable" category, according to Kathy Liska, farm supervisor.

But in 2002, J.D. Megchelsen saw Dave Schroer's 347-pound pumpkin in the paper and got inspired.

He started growing his own pumpkins the following year. His first was only 152 pounds, but by 2004, he had almost doubled Schroer's pumpkin's size. His weighed 707 pounds that year, taking the state record.

Liska was impressed. She decided the large squashes deserved to more recognition and gave them their own section and event -- the Alaskan Midnight Sun Pumpkin Weigh Off.

In 2005, Megchelsen broke his own record with a 942-pound pumpkin.

And again in 2006 — 1,019 pounds.

For the last few years, that record held.

See the prize-winning pumpkin at adn.com

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