Floyd County resident Dwight Slone transported another giant pumpkin to the Kentucky State Fair this week.
He expected that pumpkin, which weighed about 910 lbs. on Tuesday, to weigh even more than that by the time he arrived at the state fair on Thursday. He earned second place in the fair’s Largest Pumpkin Contest, with the pumpkin weighing 928 lbs. A Hancock County resident won the contest with a pumpkin weighing more than 1,045 lbs.
Slone, a Prestonsburg City Utilities employee, has been growing giant pumpkins — and racking up awards at the state fair and elsewhere — since 2008.
His said his first giant pumpkin was 700 lbs. and he’s “been hooked ever since.”
“This is my stress reliever,” he said. “It’s stressful, too, at times, but this is my stress reliever.”
He said he looks forward to the state fair every year.
“It’s a big thrill for the people and the kids to come in and to see the pumpkins like that,” he said. “It’s just something I like doing. I like that it gives people pleasure, looking at them.”
He has won the Largest Pumpkin Contest at the fair numerous times, including in 2015, 2017 and 2018 with pumpkins weighing 875 lbs., 1,223 lbs. and 878 lbs. One year, his giant pumpkin was purchased by a reality show and sent to China to be carved.
He spends about three hours in his gardens every evening — pruning, fertilizing, watering and doing other things to help his giant pumpkins grow. He places his pumpkins on a bed of sand to keep them dry, covers them with a tarp to keep the sun from drying the shells out and uses blankets to protect them when the temperature drops below 50 degrees at night.
Slone starts his giant pumpkin-growing season every winter, growing the plants indoors until it’s warm enough to move them into his garden. He cares for these plants meticulously, planting them at intervals so the pumpkins are ready for the state fair and contests in other areas and states. This year, he is using a fertilizer that was made in Texas — one he said he’s been trying to get for more than a year now.
Slone said he grew up in a farm family, and several members still raise various crops on family property in
The growing season came with a bit of heartache for Slone this year. A few weeks ago, he said a 1,600 lb. pumpkin he grew from his own seed died because of a plant disease.
If it would have survived, that pumpkin would have broken the state record, Slone said.
He now has several pumpkins growing in separate fields.
Since 2009, he and his wife Karen have displayed a pumpkin during the Jenny Wiley Festival to raise funds for the Floyd County Animal Shelter.