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Oh, Great Pumpkin, where are you?

Residents search local patches, stands for the perfect gourd

October 6, 2012
By Ilsa Matthes - staff writer ( , Daily Press

ESCANABA - Fall is here again and that means that children and adults are searching for the perfect pumpkin.

"I've sold a couple thousand," said John Arvan, who operates a pumpkin stand in the parking lot of the Delta Plaza Mall.

According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of the people who will celebrate Halloween this year are expected to decorate their yards. Most of the pumpkins Arvan sells are Howden pumpkins, the standard pumpkin used for jack-o-lanterns and yard decorations.

Article Photos

Ilsa Matthes | Daily Press
John Arvan has grown more than 5,000 pumpkins and gourds for the pumpkin stand he operates in the Delta Plaza Mall parking lot. Arvan and his family have been growing pumpkins for ten years.

While the Howden may be a staple of Halloween, other varieties of pumpkins are better for making pies or soups.

One new pumpkin this year is the Porcelain Doll pumpkin. This variety has a pink skin and a bright orange interior. A portion of the proceeds from the seeds of this specialty pumpkin are donated to breast cancer research and awareness.

"It's a gourmet pumpkin. It's supposed to be excellent for pumpkin soup," said Arvan.

For many people, pumpkin pies are an important part of celebrating the season. Pie pumpkins, which are smaller than Howdens, are recommend for those that wish to make their pies from scratch because of their stronger flavor.

"I've sold five or six hundred of those pie pumpkins. A lot of people make pie from scratch," said Arvan.

For another fall treat, pumpkin seeds can be roasted in the oven to produce a nutty flavored snack. Even the seeds of Howden pumpkins, which have very little flavor in the flesh of the pumpkin, can be roasted.

Giant pumpkins may not be grown for carving or eating, but the stakes are still high. On Sept. 28, the record for world's largest pumpkin was shattered by Rhode Island native Ron Wallace.

His 2,009-pound pumpkin was the first pumpkin ever to break the one-ton mark, a distinction that earned him $10,000.

Most people cannot store - let alone move - a one-ton pumpkin, but even people with small living spaces can bring the festive fall atmosphere indoors with small gourds and mini pumpkins.

"People like them," said Arvan, adding they are inexpensive.

Arvan, who grew more than 5,000 pumpkins in Bark River this year, used to sell pumpkins in his front yard in Gladstone with his son. This is the first year he has sold pumpkins in Escanaba, and according to him people appreciate that they can buy pumpkins locally.

"The price of gas makes a difference too. You drive somewhere to buy $10 worth of pumpkins and it takes half that in gas to get there," he said.



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