20th annual pumpkin weigh-off held at Frerichs Farm

East Bay

WARREN, R.I. (WPRI) – The 20th annual pumpkin weigh-off at Frerichs Farm was not how owner Dave Frerichs envisioned it, but it proved to be fruitful nonetheless. 

The fall event has become a family favorite in the area, attracting some 5,000 people annually. However, due to the pandemic, only the farmers and their teams could attend the weigh in.

Additionally, the weigh-in times were scattered. The growers were asked to stay near their trucks, wear masks, and get temperature checked upon arrival. 

“So sad because so many people, we’ve been getting hundreds of hundreds of calls trying to find out if it was going to be, and a lot of people they do understand because of the covid that we can’t have the normal one,” said owner Dave Frerichs, “We were really excited about 20 years at this spot.

12 News got you a behind-the-scenes look at the weigh-in, from a social distance. 

Steve Connolly, a longtime grower from Sharon, Massachusetts, says his bushel gourd broke the world record for the largest ever bushel gourd to be grown. It weighed in at 470 pounds, breaking the previous title of 384 pounds. Because Frerichs is a recognized weigh-in location, this made the record official in the world record books. 

Joe Jutras, a longtime grower from Scituate, who has won world records in the past for his large pumpkins and squash, presented a squash that turned out to be the 4th largest squash ever grown. It was the second largest this year, according to Connolly, who served as still photographer for the event. 

“These fruit can grow almost 50 pounds a day at their peak,” Joe Jutras told 12 News. 

With so many setbacks this year, the drought conditions proved to help farmers grow their prized possessions. They said they were able to better control how much water their pumpkins, squash and gourds got, and prevented fungus and rot that sometimes grow when there is too much rain. 

Now that the crops have been harvested, they’re slowly decaying. The farmers said they could last through Thanksgiving, with some even lasting through January. The pumpkins, gourds and squash won’t be eaten. Due to the fertilizers and cross-breeding, they likely won’t taste very good. Instead, they’ll be donated to botanical gardens or local holiday displays. 

The growers said for them, the hours and hours of work aren’t for competitive purposes. It’s truly a labor of love. “There’s no secrets, and everybody’s friends with one another, we’ve been doing this so long, it rally there’s no secrets, but it’s a lot of hard work,” said Jutras. 

They look forward to meeting up with each other and sharing best practices each year, even without the crowds to acknowledge the fruits of their labor. 

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