Gourd Almighty! Giant win

Students from Downlands College, Toowoomba and their teacher Dr Jeff Buchanan. The team smashed the long-standing Ekka record by more than 100kg. Picture: CONTRIBUTED.

In a battle of super-sized proportions, Toowoomba’s Downlands College smashed the long-standing Ekka record by more than 100kg to clinch top honours at the Royal Queensland Show’s Giant Pumpkin Competition at Brisbane Showgrounds.

The secondary school students also set a Queensland record with its ginormous 368.5kg entry, which beat the Ekka record for heaviest pumpkin of 261.5kg set back in 2015.

More than 10 mega pumpkins were placed on super-sized scales today with Downlands College blitzing the competition by 109.5kg.

The College’s other entry was also enormous, weighing in at 337.5kg – the second heaviest in the competition’s history.

Downlands College collects $2850 in prize money, which includes this year’s new bonus prize of $1000 for the heaviest pumpkin more thaan 350kg.

It’s the second time in the competition’s history that a school has managed to edge out veteran growers in the Open Class category, after Downlands College won the title of Champion Heaviest Pumpkin of Show last year for the first time.

Downlands College Agricultural Science teacher Jeff Buchanan said he felt their competition entry this year was the best they had produced.

“There is so much excitement among the students, as well as a real sense of achievement when they see what they have produced stacking up against other growers and school entries,” Dr Buchanan said.

“The students are excited they have done better than before and they have been putting in the work with 30 barrel-loads of compost and a fertigation program for the pumpkins.

“This comes as part of the process to get the kids interested in plant science.’’

Ekka’s most famous giant pumpkin growing family, the Frohloff’s from Minden took top honours in the open class.

Geoff’s Frohloff’s 259kg entry won first place, while his son Tony took third place with a 155kg entry.

Judging was held outside of Ekka dates in August again this year to exploit the premium pumpkin growing season.

School students joined `the veteran growers, with the competition curriculum-aligned for Foundation to year 8, planting the seed of knowledge about the importance of agriculture.

Those keen to enter the competition next year, can sign up for their free Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds at the show or visit www.ekka.com.au to secure their seeds.

The crowning of the Ekka’s first Grand Champion for 2024 signals the official countdown to Queensland’s largest and most loved annual event, which is now just ??? days away.

2024 EKKA Giant Pumpkin Competition Results:

Champion Heaviest Pumpkin of Show – Downlands College – 368.5kg – NEW EKKA RECORD!

Heaviest Pumpkin – Open Class:

1. Geoff Frohloff – 259kg

2. Jim Baxter – 164.5kg

3. Tony Frohloff 155kg

Heaviest Pumpkin – Youth Class:

1. Downlands College – 368.5kg

2. Downlands College – 337.5kg

3. Wilsonton Agricultural Field Study Centre – 48kg