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The Great Pumpkin Raft Race!

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The Great Pumpkin Raft Race!

People paddling in pumpkins across Lake Pesaquid? Are they out of their gourds! Maybe not, but they are definitely fanatic about it. Picture this: two dozen racers, sitting in their own huge pumpkin, paddle like mad towards the finish line. The winner covers the 1/2 mile course in just over 10 minutes. Begun in 1999, the “Pumpkin Regatta” is Windsor, Nova Scotia’s pride and joy event. It was the brainchild of Danny Dill, son of pumpkin grower Howard Dill, one of the masters of massive pumpkins.

How do they do it?
Not easily, friends, not easily. First, you have to hollow out a 700 lb. pumpkin only days before the race, or it will turn soft and lose seaworthiness. Then you decorate the outside with the theme and name of your choice — some past favorites include “Freedom”, “Swamp Dog”, and “Blue Streak”. Racers must be physically fit, for a pumpkin doesn’t easily glide through the water. Large round objects aren’t the most cooperative vessels.

So every stroke of the paddle is demanding. Navigating your personal vegetable craft (PVC), as the pumpkins are known, is made harder by more inexperienced paddlers in your way, exhaustion, and the fact that you’re probably laughing the whole way across!

Race Champions
Along with winning the inaugural race in just under 20 minutes, Leo Swinamer has also won the Motorized Division. Yes, that’s right, Leo had to somehow figure a way to lash a boat motor to his watercraft! In 2003 and 2004 he was back-to-back Pumpkin Regatta Paddling Champion. Not bad for a 70-year old! This is an event worth watching, and it takes place in a beautiful part of the world.

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Interested in going?
This year’s Pumpkin Regatta is on October 14, 2007.

To learn more about the Windsor Pumpkin Regatta go to Or contact the Windsor —West Hants Pumpkin Festival Society P.O. Box 623, Windsor, Nova Scotia B0N 2T0

Editor’s Note: Last year, Editor Peter Geiger entered this race with a 687-pound orange vessel. It was the heaviest vehicle in the race. Despite teaching canoeing and kayaking for 18 years, he came in 20th. This year he’s trying his luck at pumpkin regatta in his home state of Maine.

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