The Topsfield Fair Giant-Pumpkin Contest’s Fastidiously Bred Contenders

By Jason Schwartz | Boston Magazine |

In the big giant-pumpkin weigh-off at last year’s famed Topsfield Fair, Pittsfield grower Joe Goetze saw his 1,283-pound darling bested by an even more gargantuan entrant from Rhode Island. This spring, he pinned his hopes for revenge on a handful of seeds just like these. If fortune favors him, by this month one of the little guys will have sprouted into a gourd heavy as a bull, wider than a Yugo, and primed to crush all comers at the 2007 contest, scheduled for 9/29. Goetze is making his bid with homegrown stock, having bred his seeds from a 900-plus-pound beauty reared in his own patch; other serious growers have been known to shell out up to $800 in online seed auctions to score what they hope will be a colossus in the making. That money could be recouped by claiming Topsfield’s $3,500 first prize, but for someone like Goetze, who spends more than four hours a day tending his crop, it’s clearly not about the cash: Glory, pumpkin is thy name.