At the Record-Journal we're committed to delivering FREE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE during this crisis.
Today, in this financially challenging time, we are asking for a little extra support from all of you to help us keep our newsroom on the job.

We're committed to delivering FREE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE during this crisis. Help keep our reporters on the front lines.

Giant pumpkin breaks record as 100th Durham Fair gets underway

Giant pumpkin breaks record as 100th Durham Fair gets underway

reporter photo

DURHAM — East Putnam resident Gene LaRiviere broke a Durham Fair record this week with a pumpkin that weighed 1,769 lbs.

That weight bested the previous fair record by 2.5 pounds. 

LaRiviere said he was “totally thrilled” about setting the new record. 

“I was just anxious to get this to the scale,” he said. “The last three weeks have been very trying. I wanted to pick it (sooner) and other friend growers told me ‘Just save it, save it. It will be fine.’ I saved it, I guess I made the right decision.” 

The Durham Fair opened for its 100th season Thursday and continues through Sunday.

LaRiviere said he started growing the pumpkin in early April. But this record-breaker isn’t even the biggest pumpkin that he has grown in the 17 years since he started. 

“Last year I lost one that was 2,031 lbs,” he said. “Would’ve been the first in Connecticut for 2,000 pounds.” 

Unfortunately, LaRiviere’s 2,000 pound pumpkin had a soft spot, and when he went to pick it up, it fell apart. 

Giant Pumpkin Exhibit Coordinator Ryan Cleveland entered a pumpkin that weighed in at just over 1,000 pounds. 

“It has been a good season, we’re really happy with it. It’s got a really great color to it, it’s got a fun shape,” said Cleveland’s wife and fellow exhibit coordinator, Chelsea. 

Last year, the Cleveland’s won second place for their pumpkin as well as the Howard Dill prize, awarded to the prettiest, most symmetrical pumpkin. This year, they also took home second place. The Howard Dill prize went to Norm Gansert, a grower from Rhode Island. 

Lloyd Blair, a grower from Middlefield, brought his pumpkin to be weighed “just to see what it looks like.” Though he didn’t enter the weigh off, Blair walked away with a pumpkin that ticked in at over 600 lbs and had “a good color and decent shape.” 

Blair left the pumpkin at the Giant Pumpkin Exhibit to be carved by a professional pumpkin carver who will be at the fair today and Saturday.
Twitter: @everett_bishop

Durham Fair

  • Address: 70 Maple Ave, Durham.
  • Hours: Thurs. 4 p.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
  • Phone: 860-349-9495
  • Website: