Question: What currently sits in Dollywood’s Market Square, comes in various shapes and colors and weighs in at a combined load of 11,072 lbs.?
Answer: Why, our new colossal pumpkins, of course!
When looking for a new daytime element to add to our Harvest Festival presented by Humana, our Product and Planning Team wanted something large-scale. And, because we’re already known for our pumpkins, it only made sense to find some of the biggest gourds in the country. So, as we looked for farmers who grow colossal pumpkins, we intentionally sought different types of pumpkins—we wanted some variety in our showcase.
We ended up with 11 pumpkins from eight different farmers, and when you visit you’ll see signage including the farmer’s name, the town and the weight of each pumpkin.
Here’s the stats in a quick list:
Andy Wolf- Little Valley, NY: 1507 lbs.
Jerry Snyder- Bessemer, PA: 1500 lbs.
Dave Stelts- Enon Valley, PA: 1477 lbs.
Andy Wolf- Little Valley, NY: 1371 lbs.
Andy Wolf- Little Valley, NY: 1240 lbs.
Tim Bailey- Jamestown, NY: 1080 lbs.
Jerry Snyder- Bessemer, PA: 943 lbs.
Jim Gunther- Corydon, IN: 626 lbs.
Samantha Smiley- Harned, KY: 512 lbs.
Scott Bayuk- Columbia, KY: 500 lbs.
Dave Cantrell- Corryton, TN: 316 lbs.
Fun fact: all of these farmers gathered for a contest at the Roberts Family Farm in Guston, Kentucky, on Saturday, Sept. 19 to see who grew the largest pumpkin. Dollywood ended up with the contest winner (Andy Wolf’s pumpkin from Little Valley, New York). After they weighed in, Andy and a couple other farmers placed those gourds bound for Dollywood on a few flatbed trailers and caravanned to Tennessee. The very next day, they arrived at our park, and with the help of a special rig, the pumpkins were moved to pallets for the Special Events Team to transport to Market Square. If you’re looking for things to do this fall, this is definitely one!
Three of these prize-winning pumpkins came from Farmer Andy Wolf—including the contest winner! So, I thought you may want to know some interesting tidbits from Farmer Andy.
His farm (Wolf Farm) is located about an hour south of Buffalo, New York, in the heart of snow country. He’s one of the top pumpkin (and watermelon!) growers in his state, and he considers his produce a competitive hobby. Wolf Farm has a few cows, and their manure helps fertilize the soil for big pumpkins. They have a dedicated well for watering the plants. A single giant pumpkin plant can take an area of 30 ft. by 30 ft.—that’s a lot of roots and leaves to water!
Farmer Andy says he starts his seeds in late April, and they are moved outside in early May. (During the first few weeks, the plants are protected in small greenhouses from possible frost and snow.) The flowers open in late June. These plants grow from a baby pumpkin the size of a marble to a full-grown colossal pumpkin in three months. At peak growth, this species can grow at a rate of more than 50 lbs. a DAY! He sent us a few pictures as the 1500-pounder was growing. The farm cat helped us understand the scale before we saw the pumpkin in person.
Pumpkins of this size are generally not considered edible. The water content is so high they taste rather bland. They are more closely related to the squash family than the typical Jack-o-lantern pumpkin.
The largest pumpkin on record is 2,624 lbs., so Farmer Andy hopes his gourds can keep getting bigger and bigger!
Most of Dollywood’s other pumpkins come from a local farm—Coning Family Farm in Maryville, Tennessee. Assuming each of the nearly 15,000 pumpkins weighs about 8.5 lbs., we have about 127,500 lbs. of pumpkins—not including the colossals!