Monday, October 10, 2011
2011 Giant Pumpkin Regatta: Don't Try This at Home
Hey, she never said she knew how to drive this thing. Her name is Caroline, and she was one of the first two contestants paddling giant pumpkins on a challenging Lake Mendota course Saturday.
The 2011 Giant Pumpkin Regatta, cosponsored by the UW Horticultural Society and the Hoofers Sailing Club, took place in perhaps the best weather the event has ever enjoyed. In 2009, heavy waves and wind blew the boats all over the place. Last year the regatta was canceled due to inclement weather -- making this either the 6th Annual or 7th Annual Giant Pumpkin Regatta, depending on whether you count the cancellation. However on Saturday, with temps in the eighties and not too much wind, conditions were perfect.
It all begins a big pumpkin and a big knife. Wielding the latter was Prof. Jim Nienhuis of the UW-Madison Horticulture Department, who grows these giant water-loving vegetables with his students. To host a Giant Pumpkin Regatta, you have to be equal parts impressario, stand-up comic and horticultural expert with a solid understanding of the fluid dynamics of the giant pumpkin. Nienhuis is all of the above.
"My name is Biddy Martin," he quipped to this student reporter when asked what his name is. "I don't know why I'd ever want to leave here." With the silly business over, the serious business of the day got under way. There were pumpkin boats to be carved and launched. There were releases to be signed in case anything catastrophic hapened in the waters of Lake Mendota, all of 1.5 feet deep beneath the race course. The pumpkins had to be boarded, with dupas being securely nestled in the zuccas (thanks to Caroline for the Polish terminology and T for the Italian). And then the competition itself, which might best be described by the phrase "hilarity ensued."
Words can't do it justice, so here's a slideshow. (Note that the "Show Info" tab on the upper right will bring up caption information. There also are controls for the speed of the sideshow).