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Rossell claims pumpkin crown at weigh-off

Addison resident Joe Rossell (far left) won the 10th Annual Big Pumpkin Weigh-off held at Oct. 5 at Louieís Food & Spirits in Lakeville. Here we see Rossell anxiously waiting to find out how much his orange behemoth weighed. The scale read 461 pounds. Now thatís a great pumpkin Charlie Brown! Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
October 13, 2010 - Hear ye! Hear ye! Let it be known that Addison resident Joe Rossell now has the biggest, baddest pumpkin in the patch.

Weighing in at a whopping 461 pounds, Rossel's massive fruit of the vine won the 10th Annual Big Pumpkin Weigh-Off held Oct. 5 at Louie's Food & Spirits in Lakeville.

"I've been in this contest now for five years and I've come in second before, but I've never come in first," he said. "It feels good. It takes a lot of work to grow these things this big."

Rossell entered two pumpkins in the contest this year. His other one weighed an impressive 416 pounds and took second place.

"This is the first year that my biggest one actually stayed intact," he said. "Normally, they rot from the bottom out."

Rossell grew the winning pumpkin with the help of his 3-year-old son, Delos.

He cultivated the 416-pounder with the help of his 5-year-old daughter, Meghan, who attends kindergarten at Hevel Elementary, part of Romeo Community Schools.

"They help me weed the garden, water and fertilize. They do a lot of stuff," Rossell said. "They both get to pick a plant."

"I'm not a farmer. We do this as a hobby and it's fun," he noted.

Rossell planted his pumpkin seeds over Memorial Day weekend, then gave them a steady diet of various fertilizers starting with 19-19-19, which is an even blend of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (potash).

He also used Miracle-Gro.

In addition to fertilizer, Rossell showered his pumpkin patch with tons of water.

"Once the plants got their first fruit at the end of June or beginning of July, I was putting about 20 to 30 gallons of water on them a day," Rossell said.

Rossell admitted his first years in the contest were "very, very unsuccessful." Then he visited the website, asked some questions and ended up learning different techniques from both local and out-of-state growers.

In 2008, he took second place in the competition with a 308-pounder.

Rossell plans to carve both of this year's pumpkins and turn them into giant jack-o'-lanterns for Halloween. "Both kids get to carve their own with a Sawzall because the walls on these things are really thick," he said.

The seeds from each pumpkin will be harvested, dried and used to grow next year's contest entries. He's happy to provide seeds to anyone who wants to enter the contest.

"We pass seeds to each other," Rossell said. "This is more of a friendly contest. It's a great time. More people in the local area need to get into this."

Other big pumpkins were grown for this year's contest by Steve Fogler, who entered three weighing 203, 232 and 320 pounds, Steve Ardelean (208) and Zivko "Zeeke" Vasovski (147).

The contest started in 2001 as a friendly little competition between Vasovski and Ardelean. Others began entering in 2004.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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