MILTON — Fort Gay resident Robert Cyrus’ record-breaking 2,194-pound pumpkin sold Sunday at the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival giant pumpkin auction in Milton.
Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Paul Farrell made the winning bid of $2,400 for the behemoth. He joked that it was his wife’s 50th anniversary present.
Proceeds benefited the annual West Virginia Pumpkin Festival scholarships that are awarded to three students in the state. The auction was sponsored by Putnam County Bank.
Cyrus began growing giant pumpkins about six years ago. Originally being recognized for locally growing a giant watermelon, Cyrus’s daughter, Lisa Rardin, and his grandson Max, got pumpkin seeds for Cyrus in 2015.
In his first competition with the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival, Cyrus said he had a pumpkin that weighed about 1,060 pounds. Since then, he has gone on to break his own record each year, with the exception of last year when he chose not to participate and two individuals from Kentucky took over the title.
This year’s pumpkin “grew over 40 pounds a day over several days midsummer,” Cyrus said Sunday. “I’d say that was probably like in the month of July and up into August.”
Cyrus said he counts his biggest accomplishment as making people smile.
“I’ve got seven grandkids, and when this pumpkin gets up there to about waist high they’re down there just about every day looking at it. We took hundreds of pictures with them. And when that thing gets ready to leave the patch it’s like Super Bowl Sunday there. They really pay attention to where that thing's a goin’.”
The auction raised $5,710 for the scholarship fund: 847-pound out-of-state pumpkin, $500, Appleton Trucking; a 273-pound pumpkin, $100, by Halfway Market; a 188-pound out-of-state pumpkin, $175, Appleton Trucking; a 110-pound pumpkin, $1,000, Putnam Bank; a 91-pound pumpkin, $135, Ron Morrison Auctions; a 31-pound pumpkin, $1,400, Putnam County Bank.
If you missed the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival, and still want to see some orange giants, the Circleville Pumpkin Show in south-central Ohio is set for Oct. 20-23. Visit www.pumpkinshow.com.