Record breaking pumpkin weighs in at 920.5 lbs.
Miss America highlights Pumpkin Show

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

Katie Stam’s dream to be Miss America since she was three-years-old, became a reality that she shared with those attending the Versailles Pumpkin Show Parade on Saturday, September 26.

Miss America, who is the first Miss Indiana to be chosen as Miss America in the pageant’s 88-year history, was the “belle of the ball” so to speak as she was whisked into the county by a sleek black limousine driven by Scott Neal of Osgood. But, she didn’t stay in the limo long.

Katie was the Grand Marshal of the parade riding in a red convertible. As the color guard of the Versailles American Legion stood at attention, she was waltzed onto the stage by Jerry Gilpin to take the microphone to sing the National Anthem.

Not only is Miss America outstanding in her looks, but she spoke words of encouragement to every young person in the audience after the parade. She was good natured about taking pictures with everyone who wanted one, and later in the day could be found amongst the crowd signing autographs and having her photo snapped.

In a private press conference, she noted her crown was not real diamonds, it was made up of more than 700 Austrian crystals. “But if I lost it, I’d go after it the same as if it was made of diamonds,” she told those gathered at the Versailles Baptist Church Family Life Center.

Since the moment the crown was placed on her head, Katie said her life completely changed. “It’s been a wild ride, a whirlwind” she exclaimed. And one she says she’s been blessed to ride. She said being Miss America has changed her life in every single way it could have. She said it has had such a positive impact on her.

Although she doesn’t get to see her family and friends much during this year, she says it’s a sacrifice they are all willing to make. Modern technology affords her contact via email, text, voicemails, etc.
The beautiful lady, who was the focal point for the day on Saturday, told how blessed she feels to carry the title Miss America. She believes in serving others, a theme that fell right into line with the Versailles Lions Club as they strive to serve others by having the Pumpkin Show each year. She says she has thoroughly enjoyed her time so far being Miss America and although she has traveled in several states and other countries, Indiana is home. “There’s no place like Indiana,” she said.

Some places she’s enjoyed visiting have been New York City because of the energy and excitement; Germany, for their history and discipline; and Alabama for their southern hospitality. It’s still hard to beat Indiana, according to Miss Stam, who says following her stint with the pageant, she plans to make her home back in Indiana.

Being photographed thousands of times in one event, Katie told the press she had to have an extensive wardrobe. Another first in the pageant’s history is having a designer donate all the clothing she will need for the entire journey. That man is Joseph Ribkoff, who has another first, he has two stores in the United States and one of them is in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Saying she dreamed of being Miss America since she was three years old, Katie told the crowd the actual opportunity has allowed her to dream even bigger dreams and realize there’s no limit to what you can do. She is writing a book and is especially proud of her endeavors in writing a series of children’s books.

Katie Stam was made an honorary member of the Versailles Lions Club for life and given a plaque by Lions Club President Terry Zinz. The Town of Versailles also declared Saturday as Katie Stam Day.

The bands marched on!
Although it rained for the entire four days slated for the Versailles Pumpkin Show this year, it didn’t rain on the parade! There were less entries than usual, according to those in charge of the parade route, and they attributed the lower count to the weather forecast.

The Best Float prize went to Patterson’s Nursery for their beautifully decorated floral float. Other winners of the floats are as follows: Youth Organization: first place, FFA (included South Ripley and Jac-Cen-Del); second place went to South Ripley Elementary Student Council. Organization Float: Tri-Kappa, first place; Indiana Patriot Guard, second place. Religious Float: Hopewell Baptist Church, first place; Delaware and Napoleon Methodist Church, second place; Agri-Business Float: Zimmer Tractors, first place; Swinney’s Lawn Mower & Tractor, second place. Business Float: Friendship State Bank, first place and Versailles Farm & Garden, second place.

The weather cleared long enough for the bands to be able to perform, with seven signed on, according to Jerry Gilpin, president of the Versailles Pumpkin Show this year. He was also in charge of all of the entertainment, which went off without a hitch despite the rain.

Ted Tapp, who has been involved with the Pumpkin Show for more than 20 years said he doesn’t remember ever having it rain the entire four days of the event. Older members of the club said they couldn’t remember it raining everyday either. The blessing came when the sun came out just a little on Saturday to allow kids to enjoy the rides and people to visit on the square as they would traditionally.

Big Pumpkins
However, there were some firsts at the Pumpkin Show this year. There was a record breaking pumpkin raised by Hank Nicholson of Versailles, tipping the scales at 920.5 pounds. This was in the Open Class Division. Coming in second was Bill Hughes of Versailles with 674 pounds; third place went to Quinton Huff of Deputy for his 574 pound pumpkin and fourth place went to The Olde Garden Shack of Batesville, with a whopping 395 pound pumpkin.

The Ripley County Class first place winner was Wilma Hughes of Versailles with her 688 pound pumpkin; second place went to Leanne and Luke Ludwig of Batesville for their 340 pound pumpkin; third place went to Josephine and Jacqueline Ferkinhoff of Batesville for 333 pounds of pumpkin and fourth place was nothing to sneeze at, a 310 pound pumpkin grown by Steve Brunner of Noblesville, who actually grew the pumpkin in Ripley County.

The weighing of the big pumpkins took place at 8 a.m. at Gilpin’s Monuments on US 421 instead of the traditional weighing at the stage. This made it easier to maneuver the large gourds and less dangerous for the crowd. It also made it easier for the pumpkin growers to then get in the parade and the crowd still was able to see the large pumpkins with the weight written on them.

It was exciting to see truck loads and trailers loaded with the massive pumpkins.

After the parade, the Lions Club sold all of the pumpkins they had grown, along with various shaped gourds.

Royalty named
On opening night, Wednesday, September 23 the King and Queen of the 2009 Versailles Pumpkin Show was named with Jacob Waldron of South Ripley and Sara Niles of North Decatur taking the titles. Their court included: Caleb McClellan of Switzerland County and Olivia Quiroz of Oldenburg as first runners-up; and Easton Asher of the Southeastern Career Center and Sarah Sandford of Lawrenceburg as second runners-up.

This year the contest had been opened up to many more schools to see 24 contestants vying for the titles.

On Thursday evening, the Prince and Princess of the 2009 Versailles Pumpkin Show was named. They were Colby Bush of South Ripley and Kiara Owens of Jac-Cen-Del. Their court included: first runners-up, Sarah Taylor of South Ripley and Ethan Walterman of Jac-Cen-Del; second runners-up were Skylar Engle from Sunman and Joshua Clark, representing Milan.

Baking and Pie Eating contests:

The winners of the 2009 Pie Eating Contest, sponsored by Ripley Publishing Co. were Samantha White of Jac-Cen-Del and Scott McNeelan from South Ripley. Each received $50 in cash and all of the contestants received a free coupon for a pumpkin blizzard from the Versailles Dairy Queen.

Alvin Busching of Versailles took the Best Baker Award from the baking contest sponsored by Ripley Publishing Co. He won $200 and a plaque for his award winning pumpkin pie. He is the first man to win this coveted title and prize. (Winners in each category will be listed with pictures in The Versailles Republican this week).

Despite the inclement weather, the Pumpkin Show had many rays of sun as people competed in a variety of categories while others were content to visit with old friends.

“We can’t do much about the weather,” noted Gilpin, who said with a smile that he thought things went off great and we were so fortunate to have Miss America among the crowd this year.

Members of the Versailles Lions Club have already been going over the records and making plans for next year’s event which always takes place the last full weekend in September.

Pictured above, Katie Stam, 2009 Miss America poses with the largest pumpkin ever recorded at the Versailles Pumpkin Show. It weighed in at 920.5 pounds and was grown by Hank Nicholson of Versailles, pictured belowas Miss America awarded him the first place ribbon. Also pictured below, right, Miss America poses with local Pumpkin Show Royalty for 2009 on Saturday. Also pictured is the King, Jacob Waldron of South Ripley and Queen Sara Niles of North Decatur and Prince, Colby Bush of South Ripley and Princess, Kiara Owens of Jac-Cen-Del.