Janesville72.5°

Farm market to replace iconic pumpkin

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
August 24, 2010
— Bryan Meyer was outside scanning the skies for funnel clouds Friday afternoon when he saw his prized pumpkin flying through the air like a giant, smiling basketball.

Three days later, Meyer still hasn’t picked up the pieces.


He’s been too busy negotiating with insurance adjusters and a company that deals in huge polymer vegetables—a top priority when you’ve got a 3,700-pound fiberglass pumpkin smashed to pieces at your farm.


Meyer is planning his next move after winds from a storm Friday toppled the giant pumpkin that just days ago sat smiling atop a 60-foot silo at Meyer’s Farm Market at 1329 E. Milton-Harmony Townline Road.


“We already know we’re replacing it,” Meyer, who owns the farm market, said Monday.


He said the pumpkin, which originally cost $32,000, was insured.


“It’s our trademark. It’s something people identify with strongly. Also, people have wondered how they’ll be able to give directions around here,” he said.


The behemoth, bucktooth pumpkin had been a local landmark and a roadside emblem for Meyer’s Farm Market since 2004. Now, the pumpkin’s in huge shards in the most ironic of places—a pumpkin patch, where it landed after 70 mph straight line winds on Friday yanked it from atop the silo, tossing it 100 feet.


Amazingly, the fallen giant smashed only about a dozen real pumpkins.


Meyer said his farm market is contracting with Sparta firm Fiberglass Animals, Shapes and Trademarks Corp., for a new pumpkin. The company built the farm’s first giant pumpkin. The company also created the 30-foot fiberglass eyeball now on display in Chicago’s Loop.


Meyer said he hopes to have a new pumpkin built and in place by June 2011.


“We’d like a new one in place next week, but next year is really the earliest it would be feasible,” he said.


The new pumpkin will be identical to first one, from its 14-foot by 22-foot dimensions to its goofy smile and impenetrably blank, black-eyed stare, Meyer said.


Meyer said the only change could be to a system of metal rods fused at the bottom of the first pumpkin, which was designed to stabilize it in the rim of the silo. Although until last week he’d never seen winds disturb the silo-topping pumpkin, Meyer said he’s interested in a design upgrade that could keep the new one from blowing off.


Mike Wiedl, a production manager for FAST Corp., said barring a 60-foot fall, the company’s fiberglass creations are very durable. Wiedl said a few years ago, an ice storm snapped drumsticks from the hands of a 30-foot Indian statue the company had built in Sisseton, S.D.


“It always takes a tornadic event or something severe to damage one,” he said.


Despite losing its top pumpkin, Meyer’s Farm Market is ramping up for fall pumpkin season. The biggest ones in the patch are at 2 or 3 pounds, Meyer said.


“But they’re still growing,” he said.


Although a few people have asked for chunks of the big, broken pumpkin as souvenirs, Meyer said by the time customers crowd the market’s pumpkin patch this fall, the fiberglass shards will be long gone.


They’ll be laid to rest where all smashed pumpkins go: The landfill.



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