Splat! It took a six-year-old boy to fire a pumpkin from a cannon and become the first to hit the target at the start of an annual Halloween festival.
Jaylan Harvey couldn’t believe his ears as he pressed down on the detonator yards away from the cannon at Bell Brothers Nursery Outlet and the blast echoed across the fields in Benington.
His family, who had travelled to the free family event from Burgh-le-Marsh, proudly watched him receive a rosette and stand beside the massive cannon situated near the pumpkin patch.
Dad Lance said: “I’m really proud of him. I didn’t know they were putting all this on. The boys are really enjoying it.”
The nurseries are tucked away in the countryside in Lowfield Road, but thousands of people from all over the county are expected to visit the festival over the Halloween period. The business now provides over 500,000 pumpkins for retailers up and down the country, making them one the largest producers of Pumpkins in the UK. But the festival started when Bell’s planted a small patch of pumpkins behind their garden centre and decided to open it for the public to pick their own.
Managing Director, Robert Bell said; “We really just did it for locals to have a bit of fun at the beginning, but with visitor numbers increasing every year, we now all really enjoy putting the whole event together. For us it’s a celebration of all things autumn and the changing of the season.”
A special event on Saturday was Lincolnshire’s Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off - a competition held for schools and individuals from across the area, including Spilsby Playgroup with a 15.6kg pumpkin. All were competing in their categories for a £250 prize donated by the NFU and Duckworth Land Rover.
Winner of the schools competition was Boston West with a 58kg pumpkin. However achieving a hat-trick with her entry in the public competition was Nancy Pilkington, with a whopping 78kg pumpkin, Her prize was collected by her grandad David Pilkington, of Wainfleet, because she was competing that day at a gymnastics extravaganza at Buxton.
David said: “This is the third year on the trot she has won - there’s no secret really, just keep watering them.”
Nurseries manager Carl Presgraves said: “We gave the seeds out in the spring, but it hasn’t been an easy growing year with all the hot weather. They’re a thirsty plant anyway, so the consistently high temperatures and lack of rain led us to think we wouldn’t get very many entries. We were thrilled to see not only so many entries, but some really large specimens too.”
Adam McGregor and his children from Kirton had been viewing the pumpkin competition entries with sister-in-law Sinead Gibbins.
Sinhead said: “It’s a lovely family day out with great photo opportunities. We love it.”
Visitors were able to pick their own in the pumpkin patch, explore the pumpkin displays, carve pumpkins and try not to get lost in the maize maze.
One-year-old Jacob Berry, of Horncastle was getting some help with a wheelbarrow full of pumpkins from Grace Ives, 11, and Lillie Moore, 7.
Grace agreed with Lillie, who said: “We came last year but there is much more to do now.”
Grace added: ”It’s extraordinary!”
In the pumpkin carving tent we found Hannah Edwards and her dad, Tony, from Boston. “We always come and get our own pumpkin and carve it,” said Tony. “Hannah’s got her face painted, too.”
The Ward family from Coningsby were checking they were tall enough before entering the maize maze. Tammy said: “This is the first time we’ve come and we’ve watched the cannon and enjoyed the pumpkin displays. We’ve been looking forward to the maize maze hope we get out in an hour!”
Bell’s pumpkin Patch is open every day from until October 31, and offers great fun for all ages. Entry to the patch is free.
lFor more details visit Bell’s Gardening Outlet on Facebook.