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What-a-melon: Winners announced in giant pumpkin and watermelon competition at NC State Fair

Pictured are NC State Fair competition winners Chris Rodebaugh and his daughter Stella on the left and Andrew Vial on the right.
N.C. State Fair Press Office
Pictured are NC State Fair competition winners Chris Rodebaugh and his daughter Stella on the left and Andrew Vial.

Cotton candy, carnival rides, games, fried everything…the NC State Fair is back. And earlier this week, they had what North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Public Information Officer Brandon Herring called “always a crowd favorite and maybe the most photographed spot on the fairgrounds during the fair” — the giant pumpkin and watermelon competition.

This year the top three pumpkin growers all had pumpkins weighing more than 1,000 pounds. Chris Rodebaugh of Lewisburg, West Virginia, placed first with a 1,461-pound pumpkin. Danny Vester of Spring Hope placed second and grew the largest North Carolina pumpkin at 1,217.5 pounds. Stephen Wright from Waynesboro, Virginia, placed third with his 1,106.5-pound pumpkin.

The winning watermelon is the third largest watermelon in the world this year and was grown by Andrew Vial of Liberty and weighed 306 pounds. Second place was Patrick VanBeck of Willow Springs, weighing in at 291.5 pounds. Third place was Christopher Kent of Sevierville, Tennessee, with a 287-pound melon.

According to fair officials, the North Carolina showing was the highest top 10 average weight of any watermelon show in the country.

Winners announced in giant pumpkin and watermelon competition

“We have some impressive entries this year,” said April Blazich, horticulture superintendent. “The winning pumpkin is particularly pleasing; it is a color we call ‘sexy orange’. The giant pumpkins and watermelons always draw big crowds and this year’s fair-goers won’t be disappointed with the entries. They are all photo-worthy.”

Fair-goers can see and photograph these and other sights in the Agri Supply Expo Center in Raleigh through Oct. 23.

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Robb Crocker is a digital editor with WFAE. Originally from New Jersey, Robb grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where majored in print and broadcast journalism and also studied English and creative writing. He earned a Master's degree in Communication from Rutgers University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at VCU's Media, Art & Text program. He is a veteran news/sports reporter and digital editor with stints at the Washington Post, Hanley Wood magazines, Richmond.com, WTVR CBS 6 and WRIC ABC 8. He has also produced the Writing Our Way Out podcast.