How to row a 900 lb. pumpkin

As a member of the WALLY team, I have attended numerous events throughout Washington and Oregon and have seen Northwest culture at its best. And this weekend I got to participate in the challenge of rowing a more than 900 lb. pumpkin around Lake of the Commons at the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta in Tualatin, OR. Talk about quirky!

Much to my surprise, there is quite an art to this pumpkin regatta and each step is key to ensuring one’s success come race time. I learned three things that I will be sure to do next time I find myself in a pumpkin!

1. Proper training is necessary if you want to win this race. Some of this year’s contenders are pumpkin-rowing pros and have rowed since the event start 10 years ago! I was way out of my league on that one, I have only rowed a kayak and that’s when I was 12!

2. Much like having a strategy for picking a perfect pumpkin to carve, there is strategy to picking a pumpkin to row. I got the second to last pick of the giant pumpkins and my chariot happened to be a bit oddly shaped. I got in it not knowing what I was going to be in for. My pumpkin kept turning in circles and once the race began, the pumpkin only wanted to go backwards. Now I know for next time that finding a symmetrical, circular pumpkin will make rowing much easier.

3. When the race began, I was determined to row my crooked pumpkin to victory but my rowing skills were clearly lacking. I quickly learned taking slower, deeper strokes through the water is much more effective when moving almost a ton of pumpkin through water.

I did get the hang of it and was finally moving around the buoys that marked the course, I was just a little (okay, maybe very) behind my fellow pumpkin racers. I did not give up though! I had to finish! With the help of the great fans who cheered me on around the lake, I finally made it to the finish line...albeit about 15 minutes behind my competitors!

Once I got out of my pumpkin I was soaked and covered in orange goo. But my perseverance apparently paid off -- I received the “Good Sport” award for my efforts and that made it all worth it.

Next year I’ll be ready!

by  Kelsey Wickman

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