Story Ideas

In search of the Great Pumpkin.

Pick the perfect Halloween gourd to carve at farms and festivals across Canada to celebrate fall in season in style.

30 July 2014

Suggested tweet: Find your Great Pumpkin at farms and festivals across Canada to celebrate Halloween in style #explorecanada

There’s something surreal about a vegetable that tips the scales at more than 2,000 pounds, making it heavier than a vintage Volkswagen Beetle.

However, since the 1970s, when the late Howard Dill developed the world’s largest pumpkin variety—Dill’s Atlantic Giant—Canadians have been on a quest to grow the greatest gourd.

The Dill Farm outside Windsor, NS, is now a tourist attraction, where you’re free to stroll the fields between August and October to see these giants. It’s where you’ll find the annual giant pumpkin weigh-off in October, and see the West Hants Pumpkin Regatta, with pumpkin paddlers racing (awkwardly!) across Lake Pesaquid in their hollowed-out, giant PVCs (personal vegetable crafts).

Dill first came to fame in 1979 with his world-champion 198-kg (437-lb) pumpkin (he earned three consecutive world titles thereafter). These days, the great pumpkins are just getting greater. Last year, Bill and Dawn Northrup of Sussex, NB, broke the Atlantic Canada record with an 822-kg (1,813-lb) pumpkin, second only to the 2013 world-record holder, a 922-kg (2,032-lb) pumpkin grown in California.

The Dill family now sells giant pumpkin seeds and seedlings to any gardener who hopes to baby a big pumpkin to greatness. The giant pumpkin-growing hobby has spread worldwide, with pumpkin weights tallied at official weigh-offs across the US, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and, of course, Canada.

Fall is the time to visit other pumpkin-centric festivals, whether you travel to Smoky Lake, AB, the Roland Pumpkin Fairin Manitoba, the Prince Edward CountyPumpkinfest in Port Eglin, ON, or the Aldor Acres Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off in Langley, BC.

Expect to find pumpkin pies, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, and pumpkin people decked out in orange plastic garbage bags with green felt hats. You can watch “pumpkin movers” wrestle the hefty entries onto scales for the weigh-offs, or the whole family can pose for a selfie in front of the massive winners.

From bragging rights to $1,000 cash prizes, gardeners take their pumpkin-growing seriously, bidding up prices at charity auctions for seeds from previous winners and feeding their fruit all kinds of concoctions to get them to grow bigger.

Even if you can’t make it to a giant-pumpkin weigh-off, there are farms across the country to get your fill of pumpkins. Head out to the pumpkin patches at Michell Bros Farm near Victoria, BC, for u-pick pumpkins, Lincoln Gardens Pumpkin Patch in the Qu’appelle Valley outside Regina, SK, The Jungle Farm in central Alberta or Honey Wagon Farms near Picton, ON. Pick out the perfect Halloween pumpkin to carve and celebrate the great pumpkin season in style.

Looking for more visual inspiration from Canada in fall season? Browse our Brand Canada Library for thousands of images and videos from all over Canada.

Follow us on Twitter @DestinationCAN

Usage guidelines

We welcome you to use these story ideas as inspiration for your own stories about Canada. The CTC owns all rights worldwide. (Our images are also royalty-free and available for editorial print, broadcast and electronic use.) If you choose to reproduce these texts for editorial use only, please include the author's byline and "courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission." If you cut, edit or modify the text in any way, please include this note: "The text has been modified from the original." Thank you.