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Community festival records another one for the books

1,294-pound pumpkin takes top prize
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Editor
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It was a 1,294-pound record breaking year at the Auburn Community Festival. Granite Bay resident Richard Westervelt crushed the competition with his 1,294-pound pumpkin, which took the top prize and set a new record at the annual festival that celebrates the fall. Westervelt’s behemoth beat out last year’s record breaking gourd, which weighed in at 1,285.5 and was grown by Meadow Vista resident Keith Goodrich. The giant pumpkin contest was one of several activities included at the 15th annual festival held Saturday at Recreation Park. The day also included a recipe judging contest, a costume parade and scarecrow contest. Vendor booths and music from the Humperheads rounded out the event. “We have a new Placer County record for a pumpkin, amazing scarecrows for the contest, a beautiful day in the sun in one of Auburn’s most beautiful parks, and a large and happy crowd - you gotta love it,” said event chairman Deric Rothe. In addition to taking home several accolades and congratulations for his giant pumpkin, Westervelt pocketed a total of $2,000 in prize money for growing the largest pumpkin at the festival and for being the largest gourd grown in Placer County. The Granite Bay resident can add another $800 to his total. He said he sold the giant to a man in Sacramento who plans to carve it and display it on his front porch. Westervelt estimated that he spent about two hours a day for the past six months growing the pumpkin. On Saturday he said he was happy with the results. “I feel great - it’s wonderful,” Westervelt said of winning. “It was a lot of hard work.” Westervelt’s younger Granite Bay counterpart Thomas Larkin competed in the youth pumpkin growing contest. Larkin placed third for his 444-pound gourd. The 11-year-old said he spent about 1 1/2 hours a day since July pollinating, watering and measuring his pumpkin. “It was a lot of work but it was worth it,” Thomas said. The pumpkin competition is one of the events Auburn resident and longtime Community Festival attendee LaVon Hotte likes about the day. “I’ve been going here ever since it started,” Hotte said. “I like the pumpkins and the scarecrow contest.” Newcastle resident Dustin Rhoades guessed he was in his sixth or seventh year in competing in the event’s scarecrow competition. This year his dad came up with the idea of scarecrows playing croquet. He titled the entry “Fla-ming-crow family plays crow-k.” Rhoades made his entry interactive. He rigged up two wires to a motor connected to a giant black crow’s mouth and passersby could press a button and see the mouth move. Rhoades said the set up, complete with pink bowling balls made to look like flamingoes, took about two week’s worth of work. Rhoades’ entry placed third in the open competition. He also won the people’s choice award. “I enjoy competing against the fellow people here,” Rhoades said, gesturing to the other entries. “It’s a really good turnout this year. There are a lot of interesting scarecrows.” Auburn resident Andrea Young chimed in and agreed. “It’s one of the best year’s I’ve seen,” Young said. “The quality is really great.” Reach Jenifer Gee at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com ---------- Giant pumpkin contest entries 1st: $1,500 - Richard Westervelt, Granite Bay - 1,294 pounds (also largest in Placer County - $500) 2nd: $800 - Tim Mathison, Napa - 1,027 pounds 3rd: $700 - Steve Fry, Ophir - 1,021.5 pounds 4th: $500 - John Brewer, Ophir - 1,015.5 pounds 5th: $275 - Guy Hinrichs, Quincy - 972.5 pounds Youth pumpkin contest entries 1st: $200 - Haden Alexander, Grass Valley - 520 pounds 2nd: Harrison Alexander, Grass Valley – 516.5 pounds* 3rd: $150 - Thomas Larkin, Granite Bay - 444 pounds 4th: $100 - Troy Shea, Rescue - 431.5 pounds 5th: $75 - Audrey Warren, Auburn - 213 pounds *Harrison Alexander was awarded a ribbon for second place. Festival organizers award one prize money reward per family. Harrison’s brother Haden took first place. Scarecrow contest awardees 1st: $1,000 - Nathan Ross, “Wild, Wild West” 2nd: $800 - Joanne and Max Naegele, “No fishing” 3rd: $700 - Dustin Rhoades, “Fla-ming-crow family play crow-k” 4th: $500 - Kelly Mierow, “Marriage of the two-headed woman and mad scientist” 5th: $150 - Trish Schreiber, “Auburn Art Walk” Youth scarecrow contest 1st: $200 - Clayton Rhoades, “Crow Busters” 2nd: $150 - Cassandra Rhoades, “Crow Soap” Group scarecrow contest 1st: $100 - Newcastle Discovery, “Count Smurfala” 2nd: $100 - Mrs. Hyatt’s Skyridge kindergarten class, “Old MacDonald’s Farm”