The small town of Little River on the Banks Peninsula saw its population increase from 700 to more than 2,000 over the weekend, as visitors attended the area’s major pumpkin festival.
The annual event is a fundraiser for Little River School.
Pumpkin Festival organizer Mel Birch says the event has grown to become the second largest pumpkin festival in New Zealand. She said it was started in 1996 by a group of local residents.
“They had a little bit of competition among themselves and invited more friends and then held it in the public parking lot in Little River. It started to get too big for the parking lot, so they moved to the preserve. And we’ve just grown and grown ever since “.
There were a number of prizes to be won, ranging from the smallest, the most perfect pumpkin to the ugliest.
However, all eyes were on the coveted giant pumpkin prize ‘Big Boy’.
The Bishopdale family ‘Mundy Bros’ walked away with the ultimate prize, thanks to their massive 211 kg entry.
Andy Mundy says they’ve never entered a pumpkin contest before. “We thought there would be bigger ones”.
However, 6-year-old Harley Mundy had a different opinion. “We knew we would win”.
And their secret to growing huge pumpkins? “Lots of water, chicken manure and they love the sun,” said Andy Mundy.
The family hopes to hold onto that recipe so they can come back again next year to defend their title.
Festival organizers have announced a date of April 7, 2024 for the next Little River Pumpkin Festival.
– By Geoff Sloan
– Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air