BRAE students lifting an 800-pound pumpkin with a forklift at the Annual Great Pumpkin Competition. Credit: Presley Allen | KCPR

The Annual Great Pumpkin Contest has been around for almost two decades. Students from the Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering Department, or BRAE, had all hands on deck ready to help out with the event that occurred in mid-October.

The event is hosted by Farm Supply Company — a company that serves farm, home and ranch needs along the Central Coast. The company has been hosting the event since it began 17 years ago. 

Using a team of student volunteers and forklifts for the pumpkins weighing hundreds of pounds, BRAE successfully helped put plans into action this year. CEO and president of Farm Supply Company Cara Wright is appreciative of the work BRAE puts into the event.

“What we love about the contest is not only are we supporting local growers that grow these giant pumpkins and want to take home the prize of the largest pumpkin grown on the Central Coast, but we are also so grateful to have Cal Poly here in our community,” Wright said. “It gives us the opportunity to work with the college of agriculture and they are so generous in bringing students down and helping us with set up, take down and facilitating the weighing of the giant pumpkins.”

Greg Schwartz, the adviser to the Agricultural Engineering Society, or AES, helped out with the Great Pumpkin competition for the first time this year. He worked with students helping to move the pumpkins around.

“Some of them are gonna be 800, 900 pounds, so they’re gonna be pretty heavy,” Schwartz said.

Although BRAE students primarily help with setting up booths and heavy lifting, these tasks aren’t the only part of the job that matters. Senior BRAE student and member of AES Patrick Stodden finds value in how this event brings the community together.

“AES and Cal Poly as a whole is nothing without community,” Stodden said. “Events like this allow us to show appreciation for everything they support monetarily; for in person time that community members spend with us. So, to give back to the community in that sense is always one of the finest things that AES can do.”

The BRAE team and student volunteers were successful in moving the heaviest pumpkin to the weigh station, which ended up weighing a whopping 801 pounds.