- Associated Press - Friday, October 20, 2017

MERIDIAN, Idaho (AP) - The biggest pumpkin ever grown in Idaho is being seen by tens of thousands of Treasure Valley residents this fall.

The pumpkin, which weighs 1,400 pounds, is on display at the Farmstead Corn Maze and Pumpkin Festival in Meridian and it’s a whopper.

“It’s a big, big pumpkin,” said Farmstead Human Resources Manager Kyra Gibson. “It’s such a novelty item. People just love to see those kinds of things.”

The previous state record, set in 2012, was 1,219 pounds and the world record is 2,624 pounds, said D.J. Steffler, who grew it in nearby Nampa.

Steffler, a former crop consultant, grew the behemoth in his greenhouse.

“I felt Idaho’s record was soft so I thought it was my job to make an effort at beating it,” he said.

The behemoth attracts a constant stream of curious observers, including Grant Cook, a youth from Boise who was awe-struck and kept his distance.

“It’s so big, every time I look at it, it scares me,” he said.

Lowe has seen a lot of pumpkins in his life - his corn maze festival is centered around them - but this one definitely stands out, he said.

“It’s a pretty big pumpkin,” he said. “It’s an impressive one. A lot of the really super giant ones have kind of an odd shape. This one still has some of the normal pumpkin shape.”

Lowe likes to hang around the display and listen to what people say about it.

“People just love it,” he said. “It’s a pretty big deal.”

Despite its grandeur, the pumpkin is destined to be smashed to pieces on the Farmstead’s last day of business this year. It will be loaded with candy and prizes and dropped by a crane during the festival’s annual pumpkin smash.

Steffler, who is in the construction business now, started trying to grow giant pumpkins three years ago as a hobby.

“The first time I ever saw a giant pumpkin, I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” he said.

He failed to produce any pumpkins the first year he tried but he grew a 760-pound pumpkin last year that was also displayed at the Farmstead.

He said the basics of growing giant pumpkins are “Good soil, good feed and good luck.”

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