Pumpkins Aweigh

That feeling that you’re being conned? That’s what I had when I came across this Wall Street Journal story about a small town in Nova Scotia famous for its giant pumpkins that has an annual pumpkin regatta across the town lake. Watch the video and you’ll get suspicious, too: The whole set-up, including muscular 72-year-old repeat champion Leo Swinimer, who keeps a fiberglass replica of his first winning boat, is straight out of Christopher Guest.

Except that it isn’t: Giant-pumpkin races are apparently now an established concept in towns across the United States and Canada—there’s even been a three-man giant-pumpkin race in Central Park. For a race in Madison, Wisconsin, a professor there crossed a giant pumpkin with a pink banana squash for a “sleeker” craft.

The Wall Street Journal’s account of Windsor, Nova Scotia’s race is hugely enjoyable, especially the description of Swinimer, who grows his own 600-pound pumpkin, turning it on its stem to flatten it out. Then he thins down the sides with “custom-built aluminum scraping tools,” dries the inside with a hair dryer, and fills it with foam to hold its shape. Upon winning this year—the Journal writes that he “cut through the water with his rotor-like paddling, leaving many out-of-breath competitors in his wake”—Swinimer reflected on his accomplishment. “There is a certain satisfaction,” he said sagely.