Friday, October 1, 2010

Pumpkin Regatta 2010

By: Kajsa Sabatke, Manager of Public Programs & Tobi Voigt, Manager of Statewide Programs
Did you know that 500-pound pumpkins can be hollowed out and paddled like kayaks? This year The Farmers’ Museum sponsored Pumpkin Fest in Cooperstown. The event included a weigh-off on Saturday (this year the winning pumpkin weighed over 1,500 pounds!) and a regatta on Sunday.

Here are a few pictures of the giant pumpkins on Saturday -- lined up in the Doubleday Field parking lot.  Below, one of the giant gourds is being lifted onto the scale.

The following day is the Regatta.

We arrived at Otsego Lake at 8:00 in the brisk morning and chose our pumpkin from a group of 12 sitting on pallets by the boat launch. We picked Ned Sandercock’s 549.5-pound pumpkin for its hydrodynamic shape and quickly got to work cleaning out the insides. We used garden trowels, kitchen gloves, and even our bare hands. After consulting with Ned, we decided to shave off even more from inside the pumpkin with a curry comb made for horse combing. We learned that the thinner the walls, the more buoyant the pumpkin!

Since the museum is hosting Tractor Fest in a couple of weeks, we decided to decorate the pumpkin as our gold 1953 Ford tractor. We made wheels out of poster board and sprayed the entire pumpkin with metallic gold spray paint that quickly became the envy of the other pumpkins. We also drew on a grill and a basic outline of a tractor (you can judge the likeness for yourself, but keep in mind that pumpkins aren’t particularly tractor-shaped).
 And what better as a tractor-driving paddler than a Holstein cow? Tobi, our fearless (OK, maybe a little fearful) racer, donned a cow costume for the morning. It made her very popular with the under-5 crowd at the event.

After a long wait, it was finally Tobi’s turn to ride the pumpkin (via a forklift) into the lake! The paddlers lined up, waited for signal, and then paddled furiously along the lake shore to a turnaround point, then back to the finish line. Three casualties of tipped pumpkins occurred, but Tobi managed to survive the course without getting wet, other than a little splashing. Success!! We’ve put up a video of the day on our YouTube channel. To see more results from Pumpkin Fest, check out the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce website.
Pumpkin Fest was attended by hundreds of people who lined up along the lake to cheer on the racers. The museum also had a booth in the activities tent for scarecrow making. We had a great time at the festival this year and we’ll be back for another run at the regatta in 2011!

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