Monday, September 6, 2010

Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage discovered!

At the Alaska State Fair, of course.  What, you were thinking it would be parked at Disneyland?  (That one is a stand-in to fool the tourists.  For the real deal, visit Alaska.)  The carriage is in its original condition, that is to say, it looks like a pumpkin before the “bibbety bobbety boo” and wand waving magic.

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I just can’t fathom how much TLC it takes to produce an eleven hundred pound behemoth like this.  In my neglected vegetable garden, at this moment, there are celery quietly going to seed, two mournful cabbages, three slug-ridden lettuces, and some zucchini plants that decided not to do anything aka produce zucchinis.  So I’m guessing actual care is required.  The water demands of such a thirsty giant would probably tax Eklutna Lake (one of our city’s water sources).  Really, how does a pumpkin top 1000 pounds?  Since I’m not big into actual research, I may never know, but check this article in our local paper for some bona fide information.

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Cinderella’s carriage was grown by Mr. Dale Marshall of Anchorage, and weighed in at 1101 pounds, a new Alaska State record.  Other contenders for chauffeuring the future princess tipped the scales at 757 and 902 pounds.  If she ever tires of the pumpkin mode of transportation, she might recommend her fairy godmother put a spell on some of the other giant vegetables seen in the fair town of Palmer, like the enormous 24.9 pound rutabaga.  And was that a 16 pound zucchini I spotted?  Honestly, some people have all the luck (because it couldn’t possibly be effort and skill)!

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Any mice to pull the pumpkin coach, you ask?  No mice (that won ribbons, at least) but just about every domesticated animal was there to vie for honors.  Cinderella could have her pick of cows, goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, rabbits, pigs, a turkey, or geese instead.  I’m voting for the bunnies.  Is there anything cuter than a bunny?

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As a kid, the geese and turkeys at the Fair always freaked me out (obviously I wasn’t raised on or near a farm), and I see I haven’t much changed.  One loud honk or hiss and I’m moving on to the next cage.  I’ve heard you can tell a lot about people by what they are afraid of but I’m not quite sure what fear of large barnyard fowl says about me.  Perhaps that’s why I eat turkey with such zest.

fair 189If Cinderella decides to take a break from choosing her next set of wheels, she could wander over to the show ring.  I well remember the year of The Great Pig Fight in center ring.  A handful of 4-H kids showing their pigs for the judges, nothing out of the ordinary, then BAM!  Angry, squealing, lunging, open-mouthed, and sharp-toothed drama.  My eyes grew wide as I thought nervously, '”Will they shoot the pigs?  Shut the barn doors?  Get the tranquilizer gun?  Do pigs eat children?  Are lassos involved here?”  My city-kid self was in fight or flight mode.

fair 178 Thankfully, the pint-sized handlers didn’t even bat an eye.  Crisis was averted with pig boards, handy barriers the children carry for separating the pigs (see picture below for some multihued samples).  I guess if you can’t see your deadly pig enemy, you can regain your pig manners and resume the walking circuit.  And get some much needed rest after all the excitement.

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There is a bit more to the Fair beyond the livestock and Cinderella-sized vegetables, including an unexpected and stunning perennial garden with some of the most unusual plants to be found in the 49th state, but that’s for next time.  Tune in for rides, food, exhibits, and a flower contest extravaganza.  See you in Palmer!

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What barnyard animals are you afraid of?  Any giant veggies in your area?


  1. I was so happy to take a tour of your fair. Those veggies were amazing, our fair did not even come close. Don't the kids do a great job with the livestock. It is always my favorite part of Fair.

  2. Great pictures! I love the bunnies. The big hogs would scare me. I had a friend who when a child got bit on he leg by a huge pig. It left a huge scar!

  3. Thanks for sharing your Alaska state fair with neat pictures! My big question is, how do people transport their mega pumpkins out of their gardens? They are simply amazing to look at, aren't they.

  4. @thyme2garden
    I seem to remember some sort of mechanical hoist is involved and it is a delicate process. Giant pumpkins are apparently quite fragile.


  5. Great post! I love a good country fair. The pig fight sounds interesting, I saw a similar occurence with some steer in a 4H show. Some grown ups had to step in to restore order. Great big pumpkin! Too bad they lose their cuteness at the big sizes. The bunnies are adorable, btw. :)

  6. All the rain y'all had didn't hurt the fairy tale sized veggies. That pumpkin was a whopper. Pigs can be frightening. I visited my cousins farm many times when I was young. I climbed a tree in a pasture until someone came to rescue me once because the big hogs came toward me. After I was safely up the tree where they couldn't get me they decided to have a nice long summers nap under that tree until someone missed me. Ha... I missed lunch.

  7. Amazing, when we are still struggling to encourage plants to keep growing, some are well ahead, pumping pumpkins to thousand pounds! ~bangchik

  8. I haven't been to a country fair for ages. Thanks for the tour of yours. What does one do with 11 hundred pound pumpkins ? You would need a chainsaw to cut them into pieces small enough to fit into the oven.

  9. Hi Christine. Did you try the chocolate dipped bacon? We ate cheese curds, a cheeseburger, corn, pickle on a stick, cheesecake in a cone, and a bbq beef sandwich. By that time the bacon looked nauseating. I do admit, the vegetables are the main attraction at the fair for our family. And the little animals. Oh and the food.

  10. @Faith Kolean
    No choco bacon for me, though I am intruiged by the idea. I also heard rumors of a chocolate dipped, deep fried Twinkie but could never track it down.

    I think next year I am going by myself so I don't have buyer's remorse when it comes to the fatty (but delish) food.


  11. Hi Christine, I don't grow vegetables for the exact reasons you state. They are so freaking labor intensive. Hats off to those who can and do well but I'm not one of them. Those giant pumpkins maybe be record breakers but they're not the prettiest on the block. What a fun fair!

  12. wow! 1100 pounds? That must have been such fun to see those gigantic veggies.

    As far as barnyard animals - all are sort of not scary, sort of scary. Animals are always much larger to me in real life than then are in my imagination. That can be a little intimidating.

  13. Wow I guess you can have a garden anywhere. Great job on those pumpkins. Thanks for the invite to your blog. Tony

  14. That pumpkin is truly amazing! Lovely look at your fair too. Thank you! :)

  15. Hi Christine,

    I love state fairs. Alaska is known for their extremely large vegetables, but it is still hard to believe vegetables can get that big :-)

  16. So, that's what a rutabaga looks like? What in the world do you do with it? Not that I'm interested in a recipe since it looks like a space alien... just teasing. What a fun fair. Glad you're not permanently scarred from the pig incident. Geese are the ones that frighten me.

  17. Hi, Christine, I enjoyed the tour of your fair better than ours. We didn't have pumpkins or rutabagas that big, no fighting pigs, nor such cute bunnies (well, maybe ours were cuter). Anyway, I visit the fair to see the horses and for the food - not necessarily in that order. I have to say I'm afraid of most farmyard animals, but I am very brave. I look forward to hearing the rest of your fair adventures. Pam

  18. these bunnies are uoltra cute. The short eared ones cost a bomb where I live!


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