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‘Got Giant Pumpkins?’ For four Cheyenne gardeners, the answer is yes

One of Cheyenne residents Andy and Amy Corbin's giant pumpkin. (Photo courtesy of Andy Corbin)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Cheyenne is home to many things: the capitol building, the Union Pacific Railroad, military bases — and, come autumn time, award-winning giant pumpkins.

Several residents are masters of cultivating pumpkins that can range anywhere from 500 to more than 2,000 pounds. Their mindsets are the same: grow the pumpkins as big as possible — and hopefully win an award for the effort — and then use them for Halloween festivities.

The Corbins’ 2,062-pound state-record breaking pumpkin (Photo courtesy of Andy Corbin)

At a whopping 2,062 pounds, Andy and Amy Corbin’s pumpkin broke a new state record this year and placed first at the Oct. 14 Fort Collins Nursery’s 15th annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off Contest. The Corbins have been growing record-breaking squashes for years, including in 2022 and 2019, but Andy’s interest in the craft started when he was little.

“I’ve always grown pumpkins since I was 11, but I’ve always liked big pumpkins,” Andy said. “The ability to get a pumpkin that big. … When people see these, it always puts a smile on their face. It’s priceless.”

Harold “France” Stinchcomb is the former 2021 state record holder. His biggest pumpkin ever was a 1,544 pounder, but this year he finished second in the contest with a 1,353 one.

Stinchcomb, who works for the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities, started growing pumpkins 20 years ago, when his department hosted a pumpkin growing contest.

David Lind’s 529-pound pumpkin. (Photo courtesy of David Lind)

“I just think it’s amazing that a pumpkin can grow that big,” he said. “I’m kind of obsessed now.”

John Stellern, who recently harvested a 1,028-pound pumpkin that placed fourth in the Oct. 14 contest, got into gardening and growing pumpkins when his adult children were little.

“Having a garden that was literally 15 steps from the back door that I could be in for 10 or 45 minutes and come right back inside and help with the kids was probably one of the best things,” he said.

A friendly neighborhood weighing competition 25 years ago got Stellern and fellow giant pumpkin grower David Lind into the business. Back then, the competitors didn’t have a scale and had to bring the pumpkins to a local store to weigh them.

Lind won fifth place in Fort Collins with a 529-pounder. Gardening has always been in the family: His grandparents were beet farmers and his father used to grow raspberries.

“I think it’s in my blood to try to grow things,” Lind said. “I just enjoy being out there in nature and working on it.”

What do the growers do with their monster-sized pumpkins once the competitions are over? They use them for Halloween decorations, of course.

John Stellern’s 1,028-pound pumpkin was carved into a jack-o’-lantern. (Photo courtesy of John Stellern)

Stellern recently carved his into a spooky design and placed it outside his house. Once community members have seen it and Halloween night is over, he’ll let mother nature take its course.

“Almost everyone that comes over to my house on Halloween comments on it: ‘Where did you get it? How big is it? That’s cool,'” he said. “Then after that, on Nov. 1, I’ll cut it into 20-pound chunks and begin to put it in the compost bin in the garden.”

Like Stellern, Lind also now has a 529 pound jack-o’-lantern on his property for neighbors to come and admire. For some families, Lind said, its become a tradition to dress up and take photos in front of his pumpkin.

“It’s been fun to do,” he said. “Its one of those things you can do when you have more time to do it.”

Stinchcomb’s 1,353-pound pumpkin is carved into SpongeBob SquarePants, aka “Punk Bob.” He displayed “Punk Bob” at the BOPU Admin Building for a few days before moving it back to his house in time for Oct. 31.

Stinchomb recalled looking outside his office window and seeing a father and daughter check out “Punk Bob.”

France Stinchcomb’s carved 1,353-pound pumpkin, “Punk Bob.” (Photo courtesy of France Stinchcomb)

“He put her up on the trailer where the pumpkin was, and the first thing she did was go up to the pumpkin and hug it,” he said. “Little kids really like it.”

The Corbins are hoping to bring their 2,062-pound pumpkin to the Church of Christ’s Halloween Festival on Oct. 28. They’re also bringing along a 1,500-pounder they grew this year — so the staff can blow it up.

It’s seeing the reaction of others that makes the giant pumpkin-growing process worth it, Corbin said.

“The biggest thing is the end of the season and seeing people’s face ,with the shock and awe and a smile,” he said. “I have not met a person that does not like a giant pumpkin and is not impressed and does not smile. That makes it worth it to me right there.”

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