Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Pumpkins for ever and ever......after!

Alaster, the man who started it all
The Pumpkin show is over but first let us start at the beginning. Six years ago Alaster, Dorkings's pumpkin guru, suggested to the Dorking Allotment Holders Association that what it needed was a show case for that very versatile vegetable, the pumpkin. Being of a fertile and imaginative mind he came up with a theme that would make it both interesting and fun, so being keen on movies we have had such titles as 'the gourd the big and the ugly', 'the wizard of squash' and 'pumpkins of the Caribbean'. Corny but you get the idea. Each year it has got bigger and better and this year I would say it has been the best of all with '2013, A Squash Odyssey'.
Admittedly since getting a couple of firsts four years ago I have become hooked and tried each year to do better especially after seeing the shields and cups being awarded. To tell the truth it's not that difficult as a quick walk round soon showed up the categories not entered or with only one exhibit so just entering will get you the extra points needed. So the next year got me the RHS Banksian medal, after Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society and first director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, (which you get to keep). And the year after the Pumpkin Pie cup, in the culinary class, and the DAHA Mole Valley Arts Alive Trophy.
Alaster in character
So what to do this year? First was to watch 2001 again and realise that despite it being ground breaking in 1968 it was rather boring by today's standards. Based on a short story by Arthur C Clark and a script co-written with Stanley Kubrick it used little dialogue and large music to tell a tale of monoliths apes and space missions to Jupiter. Hmmm. Anyway the central character of a computer called HAL was a good starting point and the monolith would have to come in somewhere, anything else just needed to be space orientated. Growing the pumpkins came first so as to have enough to enter each section in each of the three weight classes, that's 12 and a total of 26 pumpkins. Then 10 for the decorative section and rest for 'choosing the best of' and cooking for the culinary section. To say pumpkins were taking over the front room is an understatement.
 A Squash Orrory
was evolution of the pumpkin influenced?
One category calls for a hanging decoration and has been largely ignored by most entrants as problematic but I was fascinated by those planetary models called orraries and so constructed one out of bent wire styrene balls and of course a pumpkin suspended from above and labelled it '2013, A Squash Orrory' as a play on words. Another category that needed thought was the Arts Alive which required an 'object', Ah ha, the monolith with one of my carved wooden pumpkins, and a 'document' what better than Galactic title deed for a section of lunar pumpkin. The painting would have to be HAL of course and the photograph, well a photograph.
fun in deed
pumpkin hal
So all was ready and the bulkier pumpkins set up the evening before the show leaving only the foodie bits and artwork (that's a laugh) to be arranged before the judging takes place. The show opened to the public in the afternoon and is free to all, which is a nice way to get people in, especially when girls dressed in green and orange go up and down the High Street offering pumpkin bites on a tray. Alaster has of course gone all out dressed in a space suit with exhibits showing how pumpkins conquered the galaxy. I particularly like the pumpkin moon landings in the 'Sea of Fecundity' from the recently declassified photographs taken by Neil 'butternut' Armstrong. I said he had a fertile imagination.
Well, how did I do. Don't know yet as the competition was strong this year but I did get best in show with an arrangement of three pumpkins and as that is a trophy I've not had I'll be well pleased. As for next year it has already been slipped that 'Frankinsquash' will be the theme. Let the fun begin.
The pumpkin girls

flowers of a pumpkin called Metro

Best in show

One of many tables

Entry in the children's section

Sea of fecundity