The Sunrise Kiwanis — the non-profit that stages the downtown Pumpkin Fair — is celebrating Manteca’s centennial as a city with what else but a pumpkin growing contest.
There is $1,800 in prize money up for grabs in the “closed” contest. Only those who purchase a $5 pumpkin plant from the Sunrise Kiwanis and fill out a registration ticket can compete for the prize money. There are 200 pumpkin plants being sold. Given there are six cash prizes there is a one in 33 chance of winning.
The giant pumpkin plants are available this Tuesday, June 12, at the Sunrise Kiwanis booth at the Manteca Chamber of Commerce’s Market & Music that takes place from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. If they are not all sold Tuesday the club may extend the registration an additional week or so.
The pumpkin is king when it comes to Manteca area agriculture. Although in terms of dollar value they are easily surpassed by the Big Three — almonds, grapes, and dairy — in terms of market share they are the undisputed king. Almost 74 percent of all commercial grown pumpkins in California roll out of Manteca each fall after being harvested from area farmland. Last year 75,400 tons of pumpkins were shipped with a wholesale value of $28.3 million. Under the strength of the Manteca area, California ranks No. 2 when it comes to pumpkin producing states.
The largest pumpkins in three weight categories — under 200 pounds, 200 to 500 pounds and over 1,000 pounds will receive prizes of $100, $200, and $500 respectively. The tallest (highest point on the skin) pumpkin will receive $200, the pumpkin with the nearest perfect shape $300, and a pumpkin that looks like a celebrity $500.
Judging will be done during the Sunrise Kiwanis Manteca Pumpkin Fair Oct. 6-7 in downtown Manteca. Category winners will be determined by the objective and subjective findings of the judges. All decisions of the judges are final.
You are allowed to amend your soil as necessary to assure vigorous growth.
To allow room for your pumpkin to grow it requires at least a minimum of 100 square feet. They need to be planted in full sun. To promote the size of one pumpkin, pinch off other fruit as they form to allow the vine to focus on creating one giant pumpkin.
Organizers remind participants to allow success to the pumpkin so when the time comes it can be loaded onto a truck or trailer to transport it to the Pumpkin fair.
The Kiwanis indicated they are appreciative of Park Greenhouse in Ripon for their support of the pumpkin growing contest.
For more information, go to sunrisekiwanis.org or mantecapumpkinfair.org.