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Teen pumpkin grower takes State Fair title from longtime champion

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Sep. 9, 2013, at 8 p.m.

A 13-year-old pumpkin grower from Wichita has ended the Kansas State Fair winning streak of longtime champ Doug Heathman of Liberal.

Newcomer Ryan Grabman, who won his first state fair pumpkin ribbon last year, was awarded first place in this year’s giant pumpkin contest at the fair. His champion pumpkin weighed in at 492.6 pounds.

Heathman, 65, who had won the giant pumpkin title six of the last seven years, entered a few, but he had a bad year. He said he couldn’t keep pumpkins on the vine this year.

Heathman’s winning pumpkin last year weighed 643.2 pounds; Grabman’s second-place gourd weighed 376 pounds.

Though weather was milder and wetter this year, it wasn’t ideal for pumpkin growing, said Grabman’s mom, Shari. July was too cloudy, and big pumpkins prefer July heat.

“The rain helped, but he really needed the sun,” she said.

Grabman’s giant pumpkin will be on display through the fair in the Pride of Kansas Building.

The state record for a pumpkin is 976.2 pounds, grown by Brian Stanley in 2007.

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