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Giant pumpkins coming to Elk Grove

Annual festival celebrates humongous gourds and family fun

Four-time winner Leonardo Urena of Napa poses with his 2021 champion – 1,623 pounds.

Four-time winner Leonardo Urena of Napa poses with his 2021 champion – 1,623 pounds. Photo courtesy of Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival

Where can you see a 1,000-pound pumpkin? Elk Grove, of course, at its annual Giant Pumpkin Festival.

This weekend, Oct. 7 and 8, marks the 29th Giant Pumpkin Festival with plenty of pumpkin to see (and eat!) at Elk Grove Park, 9950 Elk Grove-Florin Road, Elk Grove. Admission is free, but parking is $10 (cash only).

Since 1994, this pumpkin party has grown into the largest salute of its kind in the Sacramento region. Pumpkin growers will haul in their prized giants for the annual weigh-in and a chance at history (as well as cold cash). Last year’s winner (which tipped the scales at 1,866.5 pounds) took home $7,000. The weigh-in starts at 9 a.m. Saturday with winners announced at 4 p.m. Check-in is 7 to 9 a.m.; entry fee is $10 per pumpkin in advance or $25 on Saturday.

Don’t miss the Pumpkin Regatta at noon Sunday. Runner-up pumpkins from the weigh-off are carved into boats and raced across the park’s lake. Anyone (over age 18) with access to a giant floatable pumpkin can enter. Fee is $5 and check-in is 9 a.m. Sunday.

Other contests include a pumpkin recipe contest, cupcake and junior baking contests for kids and teens, a scarecrow contest and youth art contest. (Entry forms and details are available online.)

Expect to find lots of food and fun with food trucks, arts and crafts vendors, carnival rides and, of course, a giant pumpkin patch.

Details and directions: https://www.cosumnescsd.gov/392/Elk-Grove-Giant-Pumpkin-Festival.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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