Anamosa

It’s been three years, but John Barlow found himself back on top of the Ryan Norlin GIANT Pumpkin Weigh-Off Oct. 3—and he did it in style.

Barlow, who won the event three years in a row from 2015 through 2017, broke his own site record with a pumpkin tipping the scales at 2,144 pounds, but that wasn’t even his biggest pumpkin ever weighed. It came up just shy of his 2,283-pound entry weighed with Caleb Jacobus in 2018 in Bloomfield. That entry would have won Anamosa’s competition that year, with the winning pumpkin being 1,741 pounds, but he had to cut it off early due to fear over rot developing.

The pair of pumpkins are connected, though, as the winner of Anamosa’s 2020 weigh-off came from the same seed.

“I’m just lucky,” he said. “You prepare for it and do the best you can at the time and maybe get lucky and maybe not.”

With his track record, luck likely has little to do with it. In addition to his success in Iowa weigh-offs, he also took an entry down to the Iowa State Fair back in 2016, which means he holds three site records in the state. That entry tipped the scales at more than 1,500 pounds—a record for that event, which still stands today.

“They’re not happy with that,” the Gays Mills, Wis., resident said.

He may have records at more than one Iowa site, but Anamosa still holds a special place for him. The Anamosa weigh-off was the first weigh off he ever went to 26 years ago, and he still makes a point to come every year.

“The roads from my place to here are smoother and straighter than going to any other weigh-off,” he said, but that doesn’t mean it’s always smooth sailing. “Last night, I had [the trailer] hooked up to my van at home, and I looked in my engine, and all my anti-freeze was gone. So, I added more anti-freeze, and it leaked right out the bottom.”

A late-night trip to pick up a U-Haul van was necessary for Barlow’s entry to even make it to the event.

Though it was a familiar name at the top of the rankings, two new growers made their way into the top-15, which bodes well for the future of the event.

Pumpkins aren’t the only things weighed or measured at the annual event. The largest marrow weighed 53.5 pounds, the top bushel gourd weighed 236.5, the heaviest watermelon weighed clocked in at 197 pounds and the heaviest field pumpkin weighed in at 128.5 pounds. The longest long gourd measured 120.75 inches.

Greg Norlin thanked hospital staff for coming down to take temperatures of volunteers and growers.

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