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Great pumpkin and watermelon contest weighs in big with Arkansas produce


What do you get when you give Arkansas 4-H kids pumpkin and watermelon seeds and a mission? Answer: a harvest bigger than the kids that raised them.

This year saw some of the biggest Atlantic Giant pumpkin and Carolina Cross watermelon varieties yet in the competition’s history at the 4-H Giant Pumpkin and Watermelon Weigh-In at the Arkansas State Fair on Oct. 4. Dodge Cowart of Pike County took home the winning pumpkin prize with his 133-pound gourd, and Colby Daniell of Clark County won with a 125-pound melon.

The competition is open to the top two winners in each county in the state, and the pumpkins and watermelons had to be grown by youth age 9 to 19 years old. The winning entries were exhibited in the Arts and Crafts Building for the duration of the 2013 Arkansas State Fair.

“It was a great year for growing pumpkins and watermelons,” said Craig R. Andersen, associate professor and horticulture Extension specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Many of the winners were back for the second, third and fourth time this year, and it’s always good to see kids that you recognize from previous years.”

In fact, it wasn’t the first time Cowart took home the prize for largest pumpkin. His 2011 entry tipped the scales at 128.5 pounds, just 4.5 pounds less than his 2013 behemoth. His sister, Kallee, came in third place with her pumpkin, which weighed 113.5 pounds She also came in second place in the watermelon category with her 88-pound melon.

Cowart also isn’t particular when it comes to raising produce as he came in third in the watermelon contest. But it was Daniell’s 125-pound watermelon that beat his closest competition by more than 35 pounds

In the pumpkin category, winners were:

Dodge Cowart, Pike County, 133 pounds;

Robby Reedy, White County, 125.5 pounds;

Kallee Cowart, Pike County, 113.5 pounds;

Tykee Sprankle, Hot Spring County, 90 pounds;

Jett Smith, Yell County, 82 pounds;

Matt Stafford, Saline County, 75.5 pounds;

Hunter Wilson, Cross County, 71 pounds;

Andrew Bartle, Saline County, 63.5 pounds;

Branden Sprankle, Spring County, 63 pounds;

Hannah Bean, Yell County, 55 pounds; and

Evan Peck, Perry County, 27.5 pounds.

In the watermelon category, winners were:

Colby Daniell, Clark County, 125 pounds;

Kallee Cowart, Pike County, 88 pounds;

Dodge Cowart , Pike County, 71.5 pounds;

Robby Reedy, White County, 67.5 pounds;

Hannah Bean, Yell County, 64 pounds;

Hunter Wilson, Cross County, 57 pounds; and

David Brister, White County, 24.5 pounds.

For more information about horticulture in Arkansas, visit www.uaex.edu, or contact a county Extension agent.

Date: 11/4/2013



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