A 13-year-old Winnipeg boy is celebrating taking first and second place in a rural Manitoba pumpkin growing competition after a few years of unsuccessful attempts.
Milan Lukes submitted a 612.7-kilogram (1,348-pound) monster at the Roland Pumpkin Fair on Saturday, taking first place and knocking out several long-time competitors.
"I'm only so young and considering [I grew it] here in the city, I'm really proud," said the junior-high student who lives in St. Norbert.
- From the CBC vault: Growers put massive pumpkins on display at The Forks (1990)
Lukes was competing against farmers more than triple his age but ended up taking home $1,500 for his first-prize pumpkin and $1,000 for his second prize pumpkin, which weighed in at 583.2 kilograms (1,283 pounds).
"Growing these things — it's like taking care of a child," he said. "They need a lot of care and attention, and you can't just leave them."
Lukes has been growing giant pumpkins in his backyard since he was six years old. He said it's taken a lot of hard work, research and sacrificing things like family trips.
He's still deciding how to spend all the money he earned for the monumental task.
"In April, in Roland, they always host an annual growing seminar where we share tips and techniques … and this really nice man did a bet that if I won first place, he'd give me $50," he said. "So I won, and in total, I won $2,550!"
As for what he'll do with the prize-winning fruit (yes, pumpkins are fruit!), carving it is the first step.
"We know for sure we will put them on our front lawn. I myself always carve a hole near the stem area, and I crawl inside and it makes a great photo having me inside because you could fit like eight people my size inside there," he said.
The pumpkins don't make for great pie because they're so heavy with water and lack flavour, so after the photo op, they'll most likely end up as deer food, Lukes said.