Wheaton man carves place in history books, grows biggest pumpkin in Illinois

Mark Rivera Image
Friday, October 7, 2022
Wheaton man grows biggest pumpkin in Illinois
Illinois' biggest pumpkin was grown by Wheaton gardener Joe Adkins, who said at its peak, the super squash was growing 40 pounds a day.

WHEATON, Ill. (WLS) -- It is certainly the spooky season and one man from Wheaton is carving out his place in the history books, growing the biggest pumpkin in the state this year.

And good gourd, get a load of this guy!

"I think this might be one of his biggest ever," pumpkin admirer Kurt Reidenbach said.

Reidenbach stopped on his afternoon bike ride to take a look at the giant prize of a pumpkin that was just named the largest in Illinois -- 1,760 lbs. -- at the Illinois Giant Pumpkin Growers Association event in Minooka late last month.

Joe Adkins is that gifted grower who found his calling carving pumpkins and wanted more.

"With the carving aspect, I wanted to get into bigger and bigger mediums so I decided I'd have to grow then to get to the size that I wanted to carve," Adkins said.

"1760 was enough to give us the first place this year, so we were happy," Adkins said.

At its peak, Adkins says the super squash was growing 40 pounds a day and taking in 150 gallons of water every 24 hours for three months. And it's attracting quite the crowd.

"I was kinda shocked when I saw it. I was like this is really cool here, I'm surprised they don't have it in front of the fairgrounds," pumpkin admirer Tracy Delph said.

"This guy always seems to have the biggest pumpkins, so he's got some kind of secret sauce," Reidenbach added.

But for Adkins, it's all about growing inspiration.

"I've been growing since I was seven, and so he has been mentoring me and he has been helping me," said Andrew Engel, a 10-year-old pumpkin grower.

Now thanks to Adkins, 10-year-old Andrew Engel is givin' them pumpkin to talk about.

"I just feel like it's cool because no other kid in my grade grows pumpkins and I feel like it's really cool," he said.