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Brigham City man hopes to break Utah pumpkin record

BRIGHAM CITY, Utah — A retired rocket scientist was hoping one of his three massive pumpkins would be able to break a Utah record for weight on Saturday.

Ross Bowman, 86, said he believed two of his pumpkins weighed at least 1,900 lbs and potentially were approaching 2,000 lbs, while the third weighed over 1,800 lbs.

The current state record was set in 2017 at 1,974 lbs and is still held by Matt McConkie.

On Friday, it took multiple people and a crane to load Bowman’s massive pumpkins onto a truck and trailer.

Bowman said his pumpkins have been known to gain over 50 pounds in a given day during their growing season.

“It’s good for the soul to watch these plants grow!” said Bowman, who helped develop rockets and missiles during his professional career. “I retired in 1998 and after I had been retired for a few years, I would often find myself dozing off at night thinking, ‘what will they remember me by? What will my legacy be? Will I only be remembered as a guy who built weapons of mass destruction? I’ve got to find some hobby to give them something else to think about.’”

Bowman said he first took an interest in pumpkin growing at the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot, Idaho, in 2005 and saw a 677 lb. squash.

“My little brother was by me and I said, ‘buddy, if that guy can raise a squash—677 lbs.—in Rexburg, I can raise a bigger pumpkin in Brigham City!” Bowman recalled. “The addiction was started right then.”

Bowman said when he started he didn’t know how to prune and he had 30 pumpkins on 4 different vines.

“One vine had 4 pumpkins that were over 400 pounds,” Bowman said. “The Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers got ahold of me and educated me a little bit, so then I started just narrowing it down to 1 pumpkin. That’s how I got started.”

Even though his pumpkins this year may go down as the largest in the state, Bowman said he still would like to grow pumpkins that are even larger.

“You can never get too much,” he said. “You always want more!”

Saturday’s 17th Annual Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers Championship Weigh-Off was scheduled to take place Saturday at HeeHaw Farms in Pleasant Grove with judging set to begin at 10:30 a.m. and weighing at noon.

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