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Over 600 attend 2011 Pilger Pumpkin Festival

Once again, the population of Pilger swelled into the hundreds during their annual pumpkin festival.
Felix Fischer of Pilger gives his 554-pound pumpkin a squeeze after it was declared the second-heaviest pumpkin in Saskatchewan at a weigh-off for the Provincial Pumpkin Society at the Pilger Pumpkin Festival on Septemebr 24.

Once again, the population of Pilger swelled into the hundreds during their annual pumpkin festival.
The 2011 Pilger Pumpkin Festival was held on September 24, and attracted about 627 people to the village of 70 residents - their biggest turn-out to date.
"We are well satisfied," said Roman Bieringer, president of the Pilger Pumpkin Festival. "It's getting bigger all the time."
Quite a few farmers were able to attend this year, he noted, as they were done harvest.
"They've always been in the combine," he said, and unable to attend the festival. But this year, thanks to great weather, they were able to make it.
The festival not only featured entertainment, kids' games, kareoke, horse rides and all things pumpkin - pumpkin pies, a giant pumpkin contest, a pumpkin catapult and pumpkin decorating - it was also home to the first weigh-in for the Provincial Pumpkin Society's giant pumpkin contest, which organizers feel drew in a few more people than usual.
"Not many people are used to seeing great big pumpkins," Bieringer said of the appeal of the gourds. "These ones are nothing like the ones they grow in their gardens."
Five pumpkins - two from Nokomis, one from Spiritwood, one from Fossten and one from Pilger - were set on the scale as they arrived at the festival, and the results were announced later that afternoon.
"We couldn't have picked a better day," said Felix Fischer of Pilger, who was the lead organizer of the provincial weigh-in, commenting on the 30C temperatures on Sept. 24.
"About three years ago, we decided to start a Provincial Pumpkin Society," he informed the crowd. "Its sole purpose was to record each year the biggest pumpkin grown in Saskatchewan."
Then this year, they decided instead of just recording numbers, to bring the winning pumpkins from the various contests around the province together, to do a weigh-off. Pilger was chosen as the location for it, because it has the largest pumpkin festival in the province.
Once the numbers were in, Nokomis was again named the Pumpkin Capital of Saskatchewan, as the home of the heaviest pumpkin.
Nancy Hards of Nokomis had the winning gourd, which came in at 650.5 lbs - 10 lbs heavier than her winning pumpkin in 2010.
The pumpkin grown by Felix Fischer of Pilger came in second, weighing 554 lbs.
And in third place was the one belonging to Glen Caffet of Spiritwood, which weighed 531.5 lbs.
Hards' pumpkin is the second-biggest one to date in Saskatchewan. The heaviest ever came out of Moose Jaw, weighing 727 lbs. In second place was Hards' pumpkin from 2010 - but she broke her own record this year.
Fischer was pretty happy with his second-place finish. He beat his own goal by 50 lbs.
"I wanted a 500-pounder," he smiled.
It was a good year for pumpkins, all the growers agree, he added while sitting atop his winning pumpkin.
Fischer isn't quite sure what he'll be doing with his giant gourd, other than harvesting the seeds. He sells the seeds for two dollars each, with the proceeds going towards the Provincial Pumpkin Society.
As for the rest of the pumpkin?
"If anyone wants it," he offered with a grin.
The festival as a whole went very smoothly and likely won't see many changes for next year, Bieringer believes.
They may try to get more entertainers - they had great entertainment in the form of singers from Cudworth this year, he noted - but they hope to add more to the list.
Whatever they do, they are going to plan for more people.
"It's getting bigger," Bieringer said of the festival.

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