Storm topples new pumpkin at Meyer’s Farm Market
Less than two weeks ago, the owners of the market at Townline Road north of Janesville put a new, giant fiberglass pumpkin atop a 65-foot silo. It replaced the former silo-topping pumpkin, which was toppled and smashed in a storm last August.
The new pumpkin didn’t last long.
Heavy winds from a storm that ripped through the area early Monday blew loose the 22-foot, 2,000-pound pumpkin, leaving it shattered in two huge pieces in a field about 100 feet from the silo where it had perched.
Farm market owner Bryan Meyer saw forecasts early Monday for a severe storm with high winds and heavy rains. He headed to the market shortly after 7 a.m. to scout for damage—and to check on his prized pumpkin.
“I was worried about the new pumpkin, and really not knowing what type of storm this would be until it hit and it was over,” Meyer said.
Meyer was at the farm market during the worst of the storm, taking stock of a toppled tree and some downed greenhouse panels when the pumpkin broke loose. He didn’t actually see the wind lift it from the silo, but he saw it hit the ground.
Meyer said the new pumpkin fell onto almost the same spot as the first pumpkin—in a field of pumpkin plants. He said it didn’t do much damage to the plants, although the wind laid over some nearby corn.
“Terrible, huh?” said a customer Monday morning as he viewed the huge orange shards lying on the ground. “You no more than got it up there.”
“It’s kind of frustrating,” Meyer admitted.
The farm market raised the new pumpkin by crane June 28. Bearing a bucktooth smile and a blank stare, it’s almost identical in size and design to the one it replaced, which was first put in place in 2004.
Meyer said the market and the pumpkin’s manufacturer—Sparta-based Fiberglass Animals, Shapes and Trademarks—anchored the new pumpkin to the inside of the silo with four cables.
“We weren’t sure how our cabling system would hold up against that kind of violence,” Meyer said.
Apparently, the system wasn’t strong enough to withstand winds from the storm, which officials said reached between 60 and 80 mph.
Meyer wasn’t sure whether the pumpkin’s cables snapped, but based on other damage at the farm market, he believes winds Monday were even stronger than the ones that toppled the first pumpkin last year.
The pumpkin is insured, Meyer said, and he already was looking into replacing it with a third pumpkin. He said talks with the manufacturer and his insurance company are “preliminary,” but it’s possible a new pumpkin could be in place before the end of the market season this year.
He plans to have the manufacturer devise an improved system to anchor a new pumpkin in place.
Meanwhile, Meyer now has two huge, broken pumpkins at his farm market: the new one, and the slightly sun-faded old one. He’s not sure what he’ll do with either. But Monday, he was trying to look on the bright side.
“It’ll be OK, other than for the lack of a little fiberglass,” Meyer said. “It’s disappointing, but being a farmer, we have disappointments mixed with successes, too. We needed the rain desperately, and at least we got that.”