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Hefty pumpkin awaits NC contest weigh-in

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Sam Jenkins' granddaughter Betsy Peel checks out one of the giant pumpkins growing at Rivershore Drive.

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By Cindy Beamon
Albemarle Life Editor

Friday, October 13, 2017

At 990 pounds, the giant pumpkin that Sam Jenkins planted in Elizabeth City is a heavyweight contender at the N.C. State Fair this year.

That is, if it lasts.

Jenkins nursed two soft spots on the mammoth before taking it to the fairgrounds, where he was keeping it under climate control until the weigh-in Thursday afternoon.

Jenkins won first place at the state fair last year with a pumpkin that weighed 685 pounds, so his hopes are high. The problem is the pumpkin's shell must be hard enough to endure two weeks at the fair. Jenkins also knows that some big contenders at the Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival topped 1,000 pounds.

Jenkins, who now lives in Chapel Hill, planted his crop in April at his late father's Rivershore Drive home from seeds he acquired from a champion grower in Rhode Island. Jenkins was caring for his father, Dr. Samuel "Bo" Jenkins Jr., who died Sept. 23, while tending the pumpkin patch.

Jenkins said his pumpkin is a champion no matter how it fares at the competition because of the joy it brought a neighbor.

Mary Hadley Griffin, who lives across the canal from the pumpkin patch, suggested one of the giants be named "Big Lloyd" after her late husband, Dr. Lloyd Griffin Jr. who died in June. During his illness, Griffin watched the pumpkins grow -- up to 50 pounds in a day -- from a window in his home, explained Jenkins.

"He got a lot of great moments watching the pumpkins grow," said Jenkins.

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