PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Tazewell, Virginia family has been hard at work growing ginormous pumpkins for Dollywood, which were delivered to the park on Sunday.
Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana, and Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health feature many pumpkins each year, including the park’s iconic colossal pumpkins.
This year, the park will have more colossal pumpkins than ever. Some of the pumpkins that arrived on Sunday started on a family farm in Tazewell County, Virginia.
The Edwards family visited Dollywood and saw the colossal pumpkins at the Harvest Festival, which prompted brothers Caden Edwards, 8, and Nolan Edwards, 5, to ask their parents if they could grow pumpkins like that.
“I went to Dollywood and I said ‘I want to grow big pumpkins’ and it’s really fun to grow ‘em,” said Caden Edwards.
The family owns some farmland, and the boy’s parents, Priscilla and Eric Edwards, began working to make the boys’ dream come true. Priscilla Edwards explained what was going through her mind when the boys first said they wanted to grow gigantic pumpkins.
“Me, being the mom I am, I’m like, ‘I’m gonna grow one and I will do my very best. I’m gonna do everything in me’ and then my family was like ‘Sure you got this?’ I don’t think they have much hope in me, but I did it,” Priscilla Edwards said.
She said growing the pumpkins took a lot of work, time, and preparation. Caden Edwards explained that the family fertilized their pumpkins and even had to cut some off to help their giant pumpkins reach their potential.
Eric Edwards, who said he took the role of supportive husband and working behind the scenes, suggested their initial goal should be 500 pounds, but Priscilla Edwards set her eyes on growing a 1,000-pound pumpkin.
And the family did just that. Of the eight pumpkins that the family brought to Dollywood, the biggest is named “Godzilla” and weighs a whopping 1,048 pounds.
“We were not prepared for it to get that big,” Priscilla Edwards said. “It took a lot of figuring things out and still was nervous when we lifted it up, so it was just crazy I didn’t expect it.”
Kris Houser, the senior operations and events manager at Dollywood, has been following along with the family as they grew the gargantuan gourds.
“They did a ton of research because it’s not easy to do this. It’s not just planting a seed and letting it happen, and they were doing all the right steps: Shade and wind and putting pool noodles over the stem so it doesn’t poke itself. I mean, they were going through all the right steps and kept them really nice up until harvest time,” Houser said. “They were super nervous about the drive here because that’s… you never know what’s going to happen and driving them that far, but they did a great job. They all got here in good shape.”
Including the the Edwards family’s eight pumpkins, Dollywood is up to 27 colossal pumpkins weighing between 400 and 2000 pounds. Houser said that not only is this the largest display of colossal pumpkins, the park also has its largest pumpkin, weighing 2004 pounds.
Houser added that the staff at Dollywood are honored and excited to help make the family’s dream of displaying pumpkins at the park come true.
“We’re honored and super happy by it. It’s just it’s just such a sweet story and just the the fact that it inspired the kids to take on this project. So I think it’s them and their mother and their father that spent, you know, it’s a lot of time and a lot of care that they’ve taken,’ Houser said. “We’re really, really excited for them and happy to be able to help fulfill their dream of displaying a pumpkin at Dollywood.”
Priscilla Edwards said she hopes when other children see the family’s pumpkins, they get a love for growing things and agriculture like her boys have. The family has plans to grow more pumpkins next year and Priscilla Edwards is already looking on to her next goal:
“I’m hooked now… I want to beat the Virginia State record and I’ll hope to hit 2000 pounds.”