How big is your pumpkin? - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

How big is your pumpkin?

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MORTON, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

In Central Illinois it's a sure sign fall is here -- the Morton Pumpkin festival.

What better way to kick off the community's biggest event than a contest to find the biggest (and smallest) pumpkin!

If it's not 75% orange, there's no room for it at the Morton Pumpkin festival.

That's one of the rules for the pumpkin weigh-in, a pumpkin contest that's one of the preludes to the Morton Pumpkin Festival.

"Some of it is for school-aged children in Morton to see how large of a pumpkin they can grow and the tinniest pumpkin they can grow," said Jim Ackerman, who is head of Pumpkin Weigh-Off. "Also, we do an open-class to see how large of a pumpkin anyone in the area would like to bring in."

Ackerman lives up to his title well. He's fascinated by pumpkins, which is why he heads up Morton's pumpkin growing weigh-off.

"You can almost see 'em gain size, said Ackerman. "You can watch the vine grow in length over a day so it really is an amazing process to watch."

Speaking of pumpkin growth, the size of this year's pumpkins proved ackerman's point.

The largest -- a massive 768 pounds.

However, there's also plenty of room for the little guys.

This year's smallest pumpkin was a whopping 1.1 ounces.

All shapes, all sizes, all week in Morton.

But, why a pumpkin contest?

"Uh, that's an interesting question," chuckled Ackerman. "Because we can!"

The open-class winner gets a $300 cash prize, and all of the first place winners get to ride in the parade Saturday.

Wednesday is the first official day of the Pumpkin Festival that runs through Sunday.

During the festival you can check out the carnival, art and photography shows, pie eating contest, pumpkin recipe challenge along with a 2 mile and 10k run.

Also, look for 25 News in the parade Saturday morning.

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