Growing pumpkins a family tradition

| September 29, 2017

Van Smith and Madi MacDonald clean their pumpkins in preparation for the 2017 Coshocton County Fair.

COSHOCTON – One underlying theme of the Coshocton County Fair seems to be family and passing down the knowledge and passion of raising animals or produce to future generations. One family in Coshocton has been growing pumpkins for six years and just started submitting their pumpkins to the fair a few years ago.

Dane and Amy Shryock grow about seven to eight varieties of pumpkins on one and a half acres of land in addition to about half an acre of sweet corn.

“It started with just a few pumpkins and my kids and grandkids, and Amy and her children and grandchildren,” said Dane. “We just had a small patch of pumpkins and a hay ride and wiener roast. Then it got bigger the second year and the third year, we grew a lot more varieties. Amy wanted to have a pumpkin party and hay ride, so we planted a lot more pumpkins that year.”

After talking with Christy Leindecker from The Garden Patch at a Soil and Water Farm Tour, Dane started showing pumpkins at the fair.

“You have to appreciate Christy Leindecker and Debbie Gaumer,” said Dane. “They do a great job getting people interested in showing produce at the AG Hall at the fair every year.”

That year, Van Smith, Amy’s grandson, and Madi MacDonald, Dane’s granddaughter, took a jack-o-lantern and sugar pie pumpkin to the fair and won ribbons. The next year, Dane and Amy entered pumpkins as well.

“It gives ownership to the fair,” said Dane. “You’re trying to teach life lessons to your children and grandchildren and that’s very important and necessary. They can see your hard work produces results, sometimes good, sometimes not.”

Van, age 9, and Madi, age 7, hope to participate a lot more in the field work next year during pumpkin-growing season. This year, Dane said he hasn’t had a good crop due to the limited amount of rain they had after planting.

Dane and Amy have a small farm tractor with a no-till planter. However, they don’t have a seed planter so someone walks along the tractor to plant the pumpkin seeds five feet apart. They hand-fertilize twice in a growing season and spray for fungus and insects several times.

“It’s a hobby for us,” said Dane. “Last year, we probably grew 600 – 700 pumpkins. We also have a big fall party and there will probably be close to 100 people there.”

All the pumpkins Dane and Amy raise are used as decorations for their relative’s homes and their home.

“We let our family choose first and then last year, all the pumpkins not used for decorations, we took what was left over to one of the nursing homes,” said Dane. “They really appreciated it. We’ve already gotten calls this year from the nursing home asking us if we were donating pumpkins again this year.”

To see more locally-grown produce, visit the AG Hall at the Coshocton County Fair open now through Thursday evening, Oct. 5.

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Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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