8 Giant Pumpkins Arrive at Dollywood for Family Farm Harvest Festival in Tazewell County, Virginia

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — A family worked hard to grow huge pumpkins for Dollywood, which were delivered to the park on Sunday.

Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana and the Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health feature numerous pumpkins each year, including the park’s signature colossal pumpkins. While this year the park will have more colossal pumpkins than ever, some of the pumpkins arriving Sunday started on a family farm in Tazewell County, Virginia.

The Edwards family visited Dollywood and saw the colossal pumpkins at the Harvest Festival, prompting brothers Caden Edwards, 8, and Nolan Edwards, 5, to ask their parents if they could grow pumpkins like these -there.

“I went to Dollywood and said, ‘I want to grow big pumpkins,’ and it’s really fun growing them,” Caden Edwards said.

The family owned farmland, and the boy’s parents, Priscilla and Eric Edwards, began working to make the boys’ dream come true. Priscilla Edwards explained what went through her mind when the boys first said they wanted to grow gigantic pumpkins.

“Me, being the mom that I am, I say to myself: ‘I’m going to grow one and I’ll do my best. I’m going to do everything in me’ and then my family was like, ‘Of course you understand?’ I don’t think they had much hope in me, but I did,” Priscilla Edwards said.

She said growing pumpkins takes a lot of work, time and preparation. Caden Edwards said the family fertilized their pumpkins and even had to cut a few to help their giant pumpkins reach their potential.

Eric Edwards, who said he took on the role of supportive husband and worked behind the scenes, suggested their initial goal should be 500 pounds, but Priscilla Edwards decided to grow a 1,000-pound pumpkin.

And that’s exactly what the family did. Of the eight pumpkins the family brought to Dollywood, the largest is named “Godzilla” and weighs 1,048 pounds.

“We weren’t prepared for it to get this big,” Priscilla Edwards said. “It took a long time to figure things out and I was still nervous when we brought it up, so it was just crazy, I wasn’t expecting it.”

Kris Houser, senior operations and events manager at Dollywood, followed the family as they grew the gargantuan squashes.

“They did a lot of research because it’s not easy to do. It’s not just a matter of planting a seed and letting it happen, and they’ve taken all the necessary steps: shading, winding, and putting pool noodles on the stem so it doesn’t sting. I mean, they were following all the right steps and keeping it really good until harvest time,” Houser said. “They were very nervous about driving here because it’s… you never know what’s going to happen and driving them that far, but they did a great job.” They all arrived in good shape.

Including the eight Edwards family pumpkins, Dollywood has up to 27 colossal pumpkins weighing between 400 and 2,000 pounds. Houser said not only is it the largest display of colossal pumpkins, but the park also has its largest pumpkin, weighing 2,004 pounds.

Houser added that the Dollywood staff is honored and excited to help make the family’s dream of displaying pumpkins in the park come true.

“We are honored and very happy. It’s just such a sweet story and the fact that it inspired the kids to take on this project. So I think it’s them, their mom and dad who spent, you know, it’s a lot of time and a lot of care that they took,” Houser said. “We’re just really excited for them and happy to be able to help them realize their dream of displaying a pumpkin at Dollywood.”

Priscilla Edwards said she hopes that when other children see the family’s pumpkins, they will develop a love for growing and farming, like her boys. The family plans to grow more pumpkins next year, and Priscilla Edwards is already thinking about her next goal:

“I’m hooked now…I want to break the Virginia state record and I hope to get to 2,000 pounds.”


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