Phil and Jane Hunt of Cameron, Ont. react as their winning pumpkin hits the scales at Port Elgin Pumpkinfest (photo by Jordan MacKinnon)

Ontario growers win Pumpkinfest title

A run of dominance by Quebec growers at Port Elgin Pumpkinfest has ended.

Phil and Jane Hunt of Cameron, Ontario took top honours at the international weigh-off, with their mammoth pumpkin topping the scales at 1,771-pounds.

It’s the third time the Hunt’s have won the Pumpkinfest crown, and their first win since 2013, which was succeeded by five-straight winners from Quebec.

Phil Hunt said he knew they had a pumpkin that could compete for the winner’s circle, even though it came in a little lighter than anticipated.

“We were hoping we would win, we had a good chance, we figured, with the pumpkin, but we were a little disappointed, the pumpkin went a little lighter than we were hoping,” said Hunt. “But we’re ecstatic to win Port Elgin [Pumpkinfest] because it is the number-one weigh-off in Canada.”

Hunt said the keys to growing a monster pumpkin are the proper seed, good weather and fertile soil, along with some secrets of the trade.

The Hunt’s take home $3,000 for first place, but Pumpkinfest-winning pumpkins have been known to fetch hundreds of dollars per seed.  Hunt said he won’t profit, and rather will donate the majority of the seeds to the Giant Vegetable Growers of Ontario.

“Each member of the club will get a seed from that pumpkin as part of their membership in the club, so we just donate it to the club and they donate it,” said Hunt.    “The more seeds that get out there, the more they get grown, the more popular [giant pumpkin growing] becomes, and that’s what we want.”

Quebec growers still manage to take home some hardware, as Todd Kline of Shawville, Quebec won top prize in the squash category, at 1,154-pounds.