1,660 pound pumpkin takes Roland Pumpkin Fair top prize

Cornie Banman with his 1,660.5 pound pumpkin, which won the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth Weigh-off at Roland Pumpkin Fair on Oct. 5. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

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A grower from Schanzenfeld broke his own Manitoba grown record and claimed the top weight at the Roland Pumpkin Fair on Oct. 5.

After competing for around seven years and never finishing first, Cornie Banman finally took the top prize in the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth Weigh-off with his 1,660.5 pound pumpkin. “I finally did it, I must have done something right,” he said. “It feels good to be first for a change.”

Banman said giving the pumpkin plenty of water was the most important thing he did. “There was hardly any rain, so I pumped water onto it,” he said. “At least 250 gallons a day.”

Banman estimated that he used about 25,000 gallons of water on his winning pumpkin throughout the growing season.

“It was a very challenging growing season,” he added. “In the beginning they were just standing in the garden doing nothing, and I was almost ready to till them out. My wife convinced me [to] just leave them, and then July 10 we pollinated it.”

From there Banman said the pumpkin started really growing, hitting about 33 pounds of growth a day.

Banman said other than watering it, he didn’t do anything special to help the pumpkin along. “It was all natural, no fertilizer, nothing,” he said.

Over the years, Banman’s older brother Henry has won the competition a number of times, and Banman said he had always been trying to beat him. “It always was a competition,” he said.

When Banman brought the pumpkin to Roland Arena on Saturday, he said he had a pretty good idea that he had a winner on his hands. “According to my measurements that I did at home it should be about 1,700 pounds,” he said. “I figured I had a good chance.”

Banman was urged to start growing by his brother when he finally had the space to do so. “The first year I got to 531 pounds,” he said. “After that they just continued getting bigger and bigger.”

Banman previously held the Manitoba grown record of 1,522 pounds from last year, and said next year he’ll try to grow a larger pumpkin to break the record again.

2017 and 2018 champ Charlie Bernstrom from Lancaster, Minnesota finished in second place with a 1,326 pound entry. Banman’s wife Helen Banman finished in third with her 1,296 pound pumpkin.

The first prize winner for heaviest squash (595.5 pounds) at the Roland Pumpkin Fair Great Pumpkin Commonwealth Weigh-off came from Leona Skoien of Roseau. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

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