Walking into Hee Haw Farms in Pleasant Grove you immediately notice all of the children enjoying the pony rides, the giant slide, the various games and the many other activities designed just for these families. The biggest draw, however, is the annual Giant Pumpkin drop that the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers sponsor at the farm.
"It's a unique and fine opportunity to see 1,000 pounds of pumpkin drop out of the sky," said Matt McConkie. Holding the state record by raising a 1,600-pound giant in 2011, McConkie of Mountain Green said he loves the event.
Ross Bowman is also a giant pumpkin grower and hails from Brigham City.
"I've been raising these pumpkins for nine years," he said. He and his wife Kay raised three pumpkins in 2011 that weighed more than 1,000 pounds. "My largest pumpkin this year was 1,013 pounds."
Bowman won the annual pumpkin regatta last week at Sugarhouse Park in by getting to the finish line first while rowing his 1,013 pound hollowed-out pumpkin around a course in the pond. He said the picture of him raising his hands in the air when he won will grace birthday cards to friends and family next year.
The event, according to pumpkin growers association president Kyle Fox of Pleasant Grove and vice president Brian Davis of Payson, takes a lot of planning and work, but is always worth it. In 2011, 10,099 pounds were dropped from a crane 14 stories high. At 10 cents per pound of each pumpkin dropped, a large donation was made to March of Dimes.
Davis said they hope to raise at least that if not more this year. "It's a worthy cause for the kids," he said. This year the pumpkins are dropping into a filled swimming pool, and onto a car and other fun objects on the ground.
When Bowman and McConkie were asked what the draw was in raising these giants, they both said it is the amazing miracle of watching something grow 30 to 40 plus pounds per day.
"I probably couldn't raise a tomato if I had to, but I love raising these pumpkins," McConkie said. He and Bowman said they have made many great friendships through this raising of the pumpkins.