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Ed Cook's gigantic pumpkin harvest is an annual celebration

By Lacy Hilliard
Ed Cook is a man of many talents. His extensive travels and diverse life experiences paint a colorful portrait of wisdom and substantiated knowledge and as every wise man knows, it is a hunger for learning that leads to a life of enrichment. Though Cook could likely write the book on just about anything, it is his horticultural achievements that have made him locally noteworthy.
Growing pumpkins might not seem like something that qualifies as astounding. But when those pumpkins have been winning awards since 1989 and have topped out in the 500-pound range, an otherwise ordinary hobby becomes extraordinary. Ed Cook’s horticultural interests began with an interest in boxwoods. From there it flourished into azaleas and rhododendrons. It wasn’t until 1980 that his interest turned to vegetable gardens and like everything else in Cook’s life, he employed a ‘go big or go home’ philosophy. In 1989 he won his first giant pumpkin contest with a 412-pound beauty and from that moment forward, competitors scrambled to beat Cook’s giants. He has won several giant pumpkin competitions both locally and regionally, but it is his love of growing them and the happiness it brings to others that has inspired him to continue his supersized hobby.
Larger than life pumpkins command celebration, Ed and his wife, Evelyn, have been happily hosting an annual autumn soirée at their Mountain City home for the past 11 years to not only appropriately honor the gargantuan gourds but also their reason for growing them. It is the belief of Ed Cook that the growing of giant pumpkins should be a family affair and the product should be enjoyed by all. Traditionally, the Cooks harvest their giant pumpkin just prior to the annual celebration to be displayed in their front drive amidst autumn cornstalks and the newly fallen crimson, orange, and yellow leaves. When asked how one goes about harvesting a pumpkin of this magnitude, Ed Cook simply smiles and says, “Five football players.”
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.