In this Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, photo, staff members ready to weigh the grand prize winning pumpkin at the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival in Elk Grove, Calif. This year's pumpkin grown by Tim Mathison, of Napa, Calif., wasn’t big and round, but wide and flat, leading judges to nickname it “The Flying Saucer.” (Sammy Caiola/Sacramento Bee via AP)
Giant pumpkin or flying saucer?
October 09, 2015
A farmer won a Northern California contest with a record-setting 1,806-pound pumpkin. The judges nicknamed it "The Flying Saucer" because of its wide and flat shape.
Tim Mathison was one of about 50 big-pumpkin farmers to haul their heaviest crops to the annual weigh-in at the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin & Harvest Festival.
Most of the pumpkins entered in the Oct. 3 contest were grown in about 90 days. Some grew as fast as 30 pounds per day, said Brian Myers, chairman of the California Pumpkin Growers Association. There were about half as many pumpkins entered this year than in previous years. That was largely due to what farmers said were overly hot and suboptimal growing conditions.
According to the Sacramento Bee newspaper, Mathison collected $12,000 in prize money. But he said the most important part of the event was sharing it with his 28-year-old daughter, Tara. She uses a wheelchair and has a neurodevelopmental disorder called Rett syndrome. She was with him almost every night as he tended to his patch, he said.
He purchased the unique seed from which he grew the pumpkin from the Make-a-Wish Foundation, a charity that arranges joyful experiences for children with life-threatening conditions.
"She knows what it's all about," he said. "It makes her really happy."
The winning pumpkin beat last year's monster pumpkin, which weighed in at 1,584 pounds. But no one came close to beating the national record for heaviest pumpkin, 2,154 pounds.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How did Tim Mathison benefit, in addition to the prize money?
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