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Virginia-grown giant vegetables break world and State Fair records

Virginia-grown giant vegetables break world and State Fair records

DOSWELL—Culpeper gardener Paul Jarosh’s 103-pound butternut squash smashed a world record at the recent State Fair of Virginia Giant Vegetable Competition.

The squash weighs almost 40 pounds more than the current entry in Guinness Book of World Records, and 20 pounds more than the standing record with the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth.

Jarosh was inspired to grow giant vegetables in his backyard garden after witnessing previous State Fair weigh-offs. He obtained seeds from another world record holder.

“As soon as I set the fruit, I knew there was something different about it; it grew so rapidly,” he said. “There’s so much attention to detail and consistency when growing giant vegetables.”

He conducted soil sampling and patch amendments for optimal growth.

“And I was clipping flowers off pumpkins every day to prevent the attraction of pests,” Jarosh shared.

He also took first place for his 174.5-pound bushel gourd, and sixth place for a 230-pound pumpkin.

For now, Jarosh is reveling in the world butternut title.

“There’s another gentleman in Michigan who has a similar-sized fruit,” he said. They met in an online giant vegetable growing community, comparing numbers, and estimating potential weights based on measurements.

“I’m waiting on him to weigh his fruit this weekend to see if he beats me,” Jarosh said. “Either way, I broke the world record at the State Fair, and no one can take that away from me right now!”

Setting a new State Fair record, Middlesex County gardener Luke Williams’ Carolina X giant watermelon weighed in at 259.5 pounds, beating the previous 254-pound record from 2018. He also won the competition in 2021.

“I lost a bigger one than what I entered this year!” Williams lamented. “I pay attention to genetics, halfway-decent soil, nutrition and keeping it disease- and pest-free. But genetics is by far the most important.”

Williams said he will save seeds to perpetuate the watermelon’s strong genetics and try again next year.

“I want to grow one to 300 pounds,” he said. “And I might quit after that.”

Barry Shrum of Shenandoah County grew this year’s winning pumpkin, which weighed 756 pounds. Southampton County’s Ricky Atkins grew the runner up, which weighed 642 pounds.

See these giant vegetables and more at the State Fair of Virginia, running through Oct. 2 at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County. Visit for more information.

Media: Contact Jarosh at 571-214-9253; Williams at 804-366-2203; or Pam Wiley, VFBF communications, at 804-291-6315.