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Baraboo Jim Pierce places 2nd, 4th place in Nekoosa pumpkin competition
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Baraboo Jim Pierce places 2nd, 4th place in Nekoosa pumpkin competition

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Baraboo resident Jim Pierce had some success at his first pumpkin weigh-in competition at the Nekoosa Giant Pumpkin Fest.

Pierce said Oct. 7 the pumpkins he grew and entered in the contest placed 2nd and 4th respectively at the competition. The second place pumpkin weighed by his father Ken Pierce was 1,590 pounds for second place, according to which has the results from the Nekoosa contest. The fourth place pumpkin weighed by Pierce came in at 1,331 pounds. The contest had a total of 23 entries at the festival, which was Oct. 2-3.

Pierce lost the championship by 35 pounds, which was won by Debbie Gantner from Oshkosh with 1,625.5 pounds. The state record for the largest pumpkin is 2,283 pounds grown by John Barlow & Caleb Jacobus of Gays Mills while the world record is 2,624.6 pounds grown by Mathias Willemijns of Belgium, according to Wisconsin Giant Pumpkin Growers website.

Pierce’s brother, Travis, planned to enter one of the pumpkins since competition only allows one weigh-in per person. However, Travis couldn’t make it at the last minute due to a situation that popped up at their farm and their father, Ken, stepped in to fill his spot, Jim Pierce said.

While he was close to taking the top prize in his first competition since he took up the hobby last year, Pierce said he is happy with the outcome. He said it was overwhelming with the results and response of the pumpkin growing community in his first competition, especially since he was going up against individuals who had as much as 20 years plus experience growing large pumpkins.

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“It was pretty cool to be able to run with a couple of those guys and do it in our first running,” Pierce said. “A lot of them have set state records in the past.”

While Pierce said he did a majority of the work tending to the pumpkins to make them grow big and strong, he considers it a family affair since they stepped in to help when needed.

Pierce said he’s enjoying meeting new people in the pumpkin growing community, even those interested in learning more about growing giant pumpkins have approached him for advice.

As for the fate of the giant pumpkins from the Nekoosa weigh-off, Pierce said both are decorated for Halloween. One pumpkin is at his brother’s house. The other is at his house and light it up at night for those driving by to see it until Halloween. He said one of the nearby nursing homes is planning to stop by to get a glimpse of both pumpkins. Pierce said he’s undecided if he will carve the pumpkin into a giant jack o’lantern because it’s so thick.

Pierce said he plans to enter in additional pumpkin contests. His goal is to grow three pumpkins for the next Nekoosa Giant Pumpkin Fest and grow an even bigger pumpkin in the future.

“Just to keep putting more pounds on and keep a pretty pumpkin growing,” Pierce said. “Try to grow one bigger than I did the previous year.”

Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.


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