Three girls spend months growing big pumpkins for state fair

Saturday, August 18, 2007
Breana Hoover, 5, Marissa Gertz, 6, and Macey Hoover, 7, from left, rolled a pumpkin from a pumpkin patch to a pickup truck Aug. 7 in Sedalia, Mo. It was one of three pumpkins the girls selected as entries in the Missouri State Fair's largest pumpkin contest. (SYDNEY BRINK ~ Sedalia Democrat)

SEDALIA, Mo. -- Sisters Macey and Breana Hoover and their second cousin Marissa Gertz wanted to grow the biggest pumpkin this year, and have it displayed at the Missouri State Fair.

The three little girls traditionally have had their picture taken at the Missouri State Fair with the prize-winning largest pumpkin.

"We wanted to make a big pumpkin, too," Macey said.

The girls' first attempt resulted in three large -- but not large enough -- pumpkins.

They bugged Harry Hoover, grandfather to Macey, 7, and Breana, 5, and uncle to Marissa, 6, all winter long, until Hoover planted seven pumpkin seeds in his basement.

The resulting pumpkin patch in his backyard sent vines up a pine tree and covered an area about 20 by 30 feet.

The pumpkins grew with some help: songs, cheers "and love," said Macey. Hoover made sure the vines were well-watered and fertilized.

"I'm excited, because I hope we'll win," Macey said before the pumpkin judging.

At the fair, Hoover waded into the pumpkin vines to cut the chosen pumpkins. With the help of John Horstman, a family friend, and Daniel Gertz, Marissa's father, he took the pumpkins to the edge of the patch, then the girls worked together to roll them to a pickup truck.

"Remember, the biggest thing that we talked about, is that we all worked together," Harry Hoover reminded her. He said the girls agreed that if one pumpkin won, then all three had won.

The girls climbed into the pickup truck's bed to pose with the pumpkins.

At the fairgrounds, the girls ran into the Agriculture Building to check out their competition. No one else had dropped off pumpkins when they dropped theirs off.

At the State Fair, an official pinned tags to the pumpkins' stems, then the girls posed for more photos.

Marissa leaned her cheek on her pumpkin, and whispered encouragement.

The next morning, the competition dwarfed the three pumpkins that had dwarfed others at the pumpkin patch.

Marissa's eyes widened when she saw the cluster of nine pumpkins, including the first-place 594-pound pumpkin.

"That's big pumpkins," Marissa said.

Macey's pumpkin weighed 96 pounds, Marissa's weighed 86 pounds and Breana's weighed 75 pounds.

Macey and Breana hung onto the white picket fence around the pumpkins, quiet for a few moments.

"Next year, can we go for the prettiest?" Macey asked.

"I wish I had a pumpkin that big," Macey said. She was OK without a ribbon. "I'm a good sport."

Breana agreed.

Macey, Breana, Marissa and Harry Hoover immediately began their planning for next year's fair. Harry Hoover bent down. "What kind of plans do you think we ought to do for next year?" he asked Marissa.

"Start 'em today and let them grow all, all, all year long," Marissa responded.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: