Most of us aren't entirely sure what to do with our 5-pound, front-porch pumpkins after Halloween is over, but for Wyoming farmer Jay Richard, his problem was bigger—3,500 pounds bigger, in fact. You see, Richard had grown two prize-winning pumpkins: Marion who was 1,784 pounds and Joani, who clocked in at 1,686 pounds, both roughly the size of three full-grown grizzly bears.
Marion and Joani both won awards in giant pumpkin championships in Colorado and Utah this year. Marion, in particular, is one of the largest known pumpkins ever grown in the state of Wyoming, completing a crowned tour across several states, then spending her retirement as the focal jack-o-lantern for the Halloween celebration in Worland, Wyoming.
The carving was done by local artist Ryan Green, the designated carver of Richard's best pumpkins for several years now. When he first took on the task, the pumpkins were significantly smaller, usually less than 1,000 pounds, but as the pumpkins have risen to the occasion, so has Green. This year, he spent 30 grueling hours shaping Marion into a giant monster face caught in a cargo net.
After her and Joani's season was over, Richard knew of the best way to send them off from the monumental life they led: Pack each full of explosives and blow them up.
"For every beginning, there must be an end," Richard told Cowboy State Daily. "And we like to put an exclamation point on the end of our pumpkins."
The two pumpkins were hollowed out and the insides cleaned. The remaining shells were then hauled to an empty field and loaded up with 45 pounds of Tannerite. A crowd of more than 100 Wyoming residents gathered to see the remarkably pumpkins annihilated into orange dust.
The honor of ignition went to Richard's son Jackson, who fired a machine gun—provided specifically for the day by Washakie County Sheriff Austin Brookwell—at the pumpkins, in a one-two celebration. Not only was it the end of his dad's best growing season yet, it was also his 18th birthday.
Jackson laid in the dirt as he fired at the pumpkins. First, came the "rat-tat-tat" of the machine gun, followed swifty by the "Boom!" of the pumpkins erupting into oblivion.
"We say the orange mist left over after the demise is the pumpkin gods being released," Richard said.
But don't worry—when they hollowed the two behemoths out, Richard saved the seeds to grow the next generation of hulk pumpkins, and he offers them for free to anyone who wants to grow their own.
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