Above: A new Site Record for Smoky Lake. Don Crews of Lloydminster with an 1884-lb. pumpkin. He broke his previous site record of a 1652 lb pumpkin in 2017. Also won first place with a 131 lb watermelon.
by Lucie Roy
The Morinville bus was full on Saturday as it departed for a one-hour drive to the 30th Annual Great White North Pumpkin Weigh-Off & Fair held at Smoky Lake.
Smoky Lake, Known as the Pumpkin Capital of Alberta, is the official weigh-off for Western Canada.
The categories consist of the Field Pumpkins, Long Gourd, Watermelon, Squash and Pumpkin. This year they had entries from Goodsoil Saskatchewan, and across Alberta, which included St.Albert, Edmonton, Parkland County, Grande Prairie, Airdrie, Hardisty, Thorhild, Fort Saskatchewan, Castor, Raymond and Bonnyville and more.
Although there is no category for them, Don Crews of Lloydminster brought along a 68-pound rutabaga and a 21-pound beet to show to the audience.
Don Crews was the big pumpkin winner setting a new pumpkin record for the Smoky Lake site with an 1884 lb pumpkin. Crews broke his previous record for a 1652 lb pumpkin in 2017.
Crews also placed first with a 131 lb watermelon.
Mary Lobay, known as the Queen of the Pumpkins, was the winner of the Field Pumpkin category with a 105 lb pumpkin. Lobay also received first place in the Long Gourd category with a gourd measuring 86.5 inches.
Lobay told us she has connections to Morinville with an Aunt and cousins living here.
The squash weigh off started at 450 lb and the winner was a 668.5 lb squash grown by Jennifer Zaychkowsky of Airdrie. She was also the recipient of the Howard Dill Award for the Best Looking Pumpkin.
This year a 93 day old 2250 lb pumpkin was on display near the stage. The pumpkin belonged to Eddy Zaychkowsky.
He said it developed some breach lines and a pinhole so it had to be disqualified.
The pumpkin weighed in at 350 lb when it was 30 days old. From day 20 to 40 it gained an average of 40 lb a day.
“We were close to breaking the world record,” said Eddy Zaychkowsky. They ran into a snag in August with the forest fires as the smoke blocked out the sun. It stopped growing. “We were averaging at 40 lb a day and it dropped to 6 lb. When the sun came it cracked and could not keep up. But it did put Smoky Lake on the map.”
Zaychkowsky said the World Record is a pumpkin weighing in at 2624 lb and it is grown out of the same seed as this one.
The Fair included a spinning wheel demo, thresher demo, museum tours, Farmers’s market, entertainment, show and shine, food vendors, children’s activities and more.
Mary Lobay with the winning 86.5-inch Long Gourd seen on the left. The second place Gourd seen on the right was grown by John Lobay came in at 51.5 in.
Some of the people on the Morinville bus to Smoky Lake posing outside the complex..at Smoky Lake
Jeanne LeBlanc posing beside the 2250 lb pumpkin.