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Cool summer results in smaller pumpkins for state fair

Mike Dunham
The Avett Brothers perform Wednesday. Concerts, food and glowing rides drew crowds to the Alaska State Fair on Wednesday evening, August 29, 2012.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Whitnie Paraoan works on Ozzie Faulk's hair at the Fair Hair booth at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Brown Entertainment acrobatic show entertained the crowd at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Fabian VonImhof and Chase Miller, aka the Hulk, ride the Merry-Round at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Hannah Richards, 17, eats some fair food at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair. Ashley Alsup, an assistant stage manager for the Colony Stage, peeks through the wall at a performer in the fiddle competition.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Jacelyn and Morgan Mahoney cross a bridge on the Raiders ride at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Checking out the hairdo at the Fair Hair booth at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Benjamin Amyot performs on the trampoline during the Brown Entertainment acrobatic show at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dale Marshall, from Anchorage, brought two pumpkins to the Alaska State Fair on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 in Palmer, AK. The pumpkin that weighed in at 771.5 pounds was the best looking and the 931 pounder was the heaviest in the weigh off. Judges measure the circumference of Marshall's smaller pumpkin.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
A costumed character greets passers-by near the Pony Wheel on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Lights on the Super Round-Up ride streak in a long-exposure photograph. Concerts, food and glowing rides drew crowds to the Alaska State Fair on Wednesday evening, August 29, 2012.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Adaiden Hennigan shows off his Hulk face at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Julie Kenley and daughter Megan Kenley bring some baby pygmy goats to the petting zoo at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dale Marshall, from Anchorage, brought two pumpkins to the Alaska State Fair on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 in Palmer, AK. The pumpkin that weighed in at 771.5 pounds was the best looking and the 931 pounder was the heaviest in the weigh off. Marshall and his nephew Jack Lynd pose with the 931-pound pumpkin after the weigh off.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Tayler Roberson and her father Sean Roberson have some food at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Lights on the ferris wheel streak in a long-exposure photograph. Concerts, food and glowing rides drew crowds to the Alaska State Fair on Wednesday evening, August 29, 2012.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The nearly full moon rises over the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Fair visitors are having fun at the NASCAR game at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Micah Johonson and mom Andrea Johonson ride the Cliff Hanger ride at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dale Marshall, from Anchorage, brought two pumpkins to the Alaska State Fair on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 in Palmer, AK. The pumpkin that weighed in at 771.5 pounds was the best looking and the 931 pounder was the heaviest in the weigh off. Marshall and his nephew Jack Lynd pose with the 931-pound pumpkin after the weigh off.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Philip Tait plays the Alaska Flag Song on his baritone on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Tait is a cook at the Pasty Shack. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The nearly full moon rises over the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Jaycob, Jordan and Joshua Powers ride the sizzler at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Jessica Root shows off some of the prizes as she runs the NASCAR game at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dale Marshall, from Anchorage, brought two pumpkins to the Alaska State Fair on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 in Palmer, AK. The pumpkin that weighed in at 771.5 pounds was the best looking and the 931 pounder was the heaviest in the weigh off. Marshall looks on as judges J.D. Megchelsen, Don Carling and Scott Robb inspect the bottom of his 771.5-pound pumpkin for cracks. The larger one rests in the background.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Baily Beus washes her calf Milo before 4h auction on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Christina Collinn and son Adaiden Hennigan ride the merry-go-round at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Fenya and Alex Zaiesev have wax casts of their hands made as their daughter Polly Zaiesev looks on at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Chris Paulsberg pulls up a frog at the Fried Frogs game and friend Jasmine Laguna reaches out for it at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dale Marshall's nephew Jack Lynd and the cabbage fairies pose with the 771.5-pound pumpkin after the weigh off. Marshall, from Anchorage, brought two pumpkins to the Alaska State Fair on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 in Palmer, AK. The pumpkin that weighed in at 771.5 pounds was the best looking and the 931 pounder was the heaviest in the weigh off.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Isabella Siegel, 10, carries Clyde, a blue cochin mixed pullet chicken on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Ozzie Faulk and his flaming hair at the Fair Hair booth at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Brown Entertainment acrobatic show entertained the crowd at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Madilynn Dwyer pulls up a frog at the Fried Frogs game as dad Andrew Dwyer and mom Dawn Harms look on at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Toby Mac, a two-year-old Cardigan Welsh Corgi owned by Janette Bower of Palmer, herds shetland sheep during a demonstration by the AKC Alaska Herding Group Club during the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Temujin Horsey stands by his yak named Yoshi in the barn at the Alaska State Fair. Concerts, food and glowing rides drew crowds to the Alaska State Fair on Wednesday evening, August 29, 2012.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Issac Aprill and Eric Hunter ride the merry-go-round at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Laura Knowles watches as the two by four Jenga tower collapses after she pulled out a piece at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Akilina Basargin and Vasilisa Serebrekoff hang upside down on the Apollo ride at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
A goat waits to enter the ring during the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Scott Robb's world record-setting cabbage was on display in the barn on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Robb's entry weighed in at 138.25 pounds. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Kimberly Parazoo, of Palmer, watches the action in the barn at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Rides, games, food, entertainment, livestock, face painting and fair hair are just some of the attractions at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Fair visitors ride the Bobsleds ride at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
From left, Caleb, Corwin and Amara Elliot enjoy some cotton candy on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. The family is from Wasilla. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
A crowd gathers to watch the Avett Brothers at the fair. Concerts, food and glowing rides drew crowds to the Alaska State Fair on Wednesday evening, August 29, 2012.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Taylor Jolley, her twin sister, Trinity Jolley and Brielle Dagon are having fun at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Whitnie Paraoan works on Ozzie Faulk's hair at the Fair Hair booth at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
A youngster crosses one of the suspension bridges on the Raiders ride as the nearly full moon floats over the Chugach Mountains at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Large pigs entertain visitors at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
People watch chicks as they hatch from eggs during the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Ruthann Stitt gets set for the 4H Livestock Auction in the barn on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Brodie Orton hits the water during the Scheer's Lumberjack Show at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
A fair visitor spins a hula hoop late Wednesday. Concerts, food and glowing rides drew crowds to the Alaska State Fair on Wednesday evening, August 29, 2012.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Alexis Mikes and Makai George show off their painted faces at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
A stuffed animal is used to try to get the gerbil to move off the center of the spinning table and head for one of the colored holes on the edge at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012. Players at the Palmer Elks Lodge 1842 rat race game bet on which color hole the gerbil will dive into.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Pioneer Peak 4H Club member Kristen Beames and her Yorkshire Hampshire cross pigs at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Alissa Foy of Wasilla pets her alpine goat Eeyore on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Cassidy Scheer speed climbs during the Scheer's Lumberjack Show at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Taylor Jolley hugs the stuffed hamster her mother Kathy Jolley won for her at the NASCAR game at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Megan Coffelt and Sierra Weaver at work at the Viewdoo lens cleaner booth at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Todd Tukaya, Allen Black and Marlene Black ride the sizzler at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Pioneer Peak 4H Club member Ashleena Roberts enters her reindeer at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Some fair goers arrived by an Alaska Railroad train to the Alaska State Fair grounds in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Brittyn Werner of Palmer redoes her pig for the 4H Livestock Auction on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Scheer's Lumberjack Show at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
A Golden Wheel Amusments worker works a game booth. Concerts, food and glowing rides drew crowds to the Alaska State Fair on Wednesday evening, August 29, 2012.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Tina Wright spins cotton candy at the Beta Sigma Phi booth at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dr. Jay Fuller, Assistant State Veterinarian, checks one of Della Tryon's chickens at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012. Tryon, who is member of the Wassila Explorers 4H Club, brought ducks, rabbits, chickens, turkeys and guinea pigs to the fair.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Pioneer Peak 4H Club member Ashleena Roberts and her reindeer pose with the giant pumpkins at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Kettle corn was a popular food item purchased at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
From left, Lindsay Vontish, Harrison Jennings and Joseph Gugel wait for their turn to perform in the fiddle contest on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Visitors enjoy the livestock exhibits at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Mariahlee Hooks and Ciana Barrera sport dragon hats at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Riding the Merry-Round at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dr. Jay Fuller, Assistant State Veterinarian, checks one of Della Tryon's chickens at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012. Tryon, who is member of the Wassila Explorers 4H Club, brought ducks, rabbits, chickens, turkeys and guinea pigs to the fair.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Julia Gebert, 12, was one of six youth who won a $1,500 scholarship through the Alaska Communications Heroes program during a check presentation at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
David Johns of Anchorage competes in the farmer's carry event of the Strongman of the North competition on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A fair-goer considers a stop at a crab cake booth. Concerts, food and glowing rides drew crowds to the Alaska State Fair on Wednesday evening, August 29, 2012.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Chloe St Jean Richard and Pierre Alexandre Dion with the Brown Entertainment acrobatic show pose for pictures at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Riding the Merry-Round at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Pioneer Peak 4H Club members Colton and Russell Roberts wait to enter their Suffolk sheep at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
David M. Frost, 3, of Soldotna, making bubbles at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
UAA Flight Crew acrobatic performer Jessica Jacob performs on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The nearly full moon rises over the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Posing for pictures with the Brown Entertainment acrobatic show performers at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Pioneer Peak 4H Club members Lindsay Beames, Kristen Beames and Aria Beames have livestock entered in the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Ron Read and daughter Ava Read pet one of the 4H goats at the 2012 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Nate Hare, left, and Cassidy Scheer, right, entertain the crowd with a log rolling demonstration during the Scheer's Lumberjack Show at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Brittyn Werner of Palmer shows her pig Jojo during the 4H Livestock Auction on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Auctioneer Mike Dewan calls out the bids at left. Labor Day, September 3, is the last day of the fair.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News

PALMER -- Even before the official reading was taken, it was no secret that grower Dale Marshall would win the 2012 Alaska's Midnight Sun Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off at the Alaska State Fair. At weigh-in time Tuesday afternoon, the only two pumpkins in the show ring in the Farm Exhibits Building at the Alaska State Fair were his. Last year, Marshall, of Anchorage, brought in a pumpkin that weighed over 1,700 pounds but saw it disqualified when judges found a small hole that went all the way into the inner cavity of the gourd.

Earlier, it had appeared that five Alaska-grown pumpkins might be in contention. Three of those, however, met the same fate as Marshall's 2011 contender. Mardie Robb, a competitor last year, said the cold summer presented an insurmountable challenge to local pumpkin growers, including her. Alaska pumpkins do all of their growing in a brief three-month window and every degree of temperature counts. Robb said the pollen must be 75 degrees to turn the blossoms into vegetables -- and she specified that pumpkins are vegetables.

"I tried 11 times this summer, and none of them worked," she said.

Among the growers whose dreams of a pumpkin big enough to bathe in were thwarted was J.D. Megchelsen, whose 1,287 pounder was declared the winner last year when Marshall's entry was disqualified. Out of contention this year, Megchelsen served as a judge in contest, scrutinizing the plants with a flashlight for any crack or puncture. Holes cannot penetrate to the cavity, Robb explained, because that might provide growers with a way to introduce extra weight into their entries.

One of Marshall's pumpkins was particularly beautiful, with an unblemished skin and deep orange color. It weighed in at 771.5 pounds.

The other had a lighter, creamier color but appeared larger. Preliminary "over the top" measurements suggested it might come in at more than 1,000 pounds, which would mean that Marshall had grown three thousand-pounders in three consecutive years. He mentioned that, among other things, he fed the pumpkins molasses and steer manure.

The crowd in the bleachers and clustered around the barricades leaned forward and snapped pictures as a forklift raised the creamy contender in a multi-strapped "pumpkin lift" designed to transport giant pumpkins. The pumpkin was set on the scale, the straps removed and the result announced: 931 pounds.

That's enough to be the biggest pumpkin officially grown in Alaska during the chilly summer of 2012. But Megchelsen's 2011 winner retains the all-time state record.

The fair's next super-vegetable event, the 17th Annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off, will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday.

More state fair coverage
Wednesday's state fair schedule
Photos: 2012 Alaska State Fair
By MIKE DUNHAM
Anchorage Daily News