You couldn’t even hug Milan Lukes’ giant pumpkin, that’s how giant it is.
As part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, the St. Norbert Farmers’ Market is presenting the Giant Pumpkin Fest this Thanksgiving weekend.
That’s where 11-year-old Lukes is entering his giant orange friend.
"Pumpkin Fest is coming up on Oct. 12," said Marilyn Firth, organizer of the event. "We’re having a number of
contests. So you can bring your biggest pumpkin, your weirdest pumpkin, your best carved, or your best painted. And we have separate categories if you are 14 and under."
Lukes has been growing his gargantuan gourd all summer.
"I think it’s doing good," said Lukes of his pumpkin’s growth, though he has learned how it could be better. "We went on a pumpkin patch tour and we met a guy who has been growing giant pumpkins for 20-plus years and there is some stuff that he did that we didn’t do. So next year I’m going to grow them, and I think I know what to do better."
Caring for his pumpkin is no easy task — Lukes has had to take special precautions to protect his prized possessions.
"We put sand under it to prevent it from rotting on the bottom, and we put a tent on top to (protect) it from skin cancer," said Lukes.
He can’t give away all this tips, though.
"Some of it are secrets," said Lukes. "So we water them, try to make sure they don’t split, because if they split and it goes all the way through, then we can’t enter them."
This is the first year Lukes has grown giant pumpkins, but he has been growing pumpkins in general for five years.
"I always though they can grow so large in such (a short) amount of time," said Lukes, who hopes his pumpkin hits 1,000 pounds. "I have always liked the colour orange and they turn orange. One year I grew a really big one, and I carved it out, and I was able to get in it completely."
Anyone can enter the contests, said Firth, but they have to have their pumpkin registered at the festival by 10 a.m. The weigh off is at noon. The cost to enter is $5.
"To be in the giant pumpkin category your pumpkin has to be at least 100 pounds," said Firth.
In all, Lukes is really looking forward to the weekend.
"I’m really, really, really excited," said Lukes. "Because it’s all my year’s work, I’m about to see what the result is."