12th-Annual Pumpkin Contest

A vivid imagination led winner to ask, "Where's the beef?!"

Shown here are winners of best decorated/carved pumpkins in the Great Pumpkin contest hosted by the Dundee Township Visitor‘s Center. From left are Lenore McDonald (3rd) of East Dundee, Karin Nedli (2nd) of Carpentersville, contest organizer Bill Zelsdorf of Carpentersville, and first-place winner Sharyn Joseph of Gilberts. Winners took home a combined total of $600 in merchandise and gift certificates donated by area businesses.

[Oct. 31, 2010, East Dundee, IL] It was a bit of imagination and perhaps low blood sugar that inspired this years' winner of the annual Great Pumpkin contest hosted by the Dundee Township Visitor’s Center. Area businesses donated $1,200 in prizes that went to winners in two categories: heaviest (by weight) and best decorated/carved. The 12th-annual contest also marked the end of the season for the Dundee Farmer's Market.

Six creative entries gave the panel of 10 judges a challenge, since only the top three vote getters took home prizes for best decorated/carved pumpkins. Designs included hand carved grimaces, a black cat, a superhero and a pan of pumpkin cupcakes.

Lenore McDonald of East Dundee used swim goggles, a "dew rag" and a bed-sheet cape for her third-place “Superhero Bill” entry, which coincidentally had the same name as contest organizer Bill Zelsdorf's. "I need all the help I can get," McDonald quipped.

Zelsdorf (sans cape) was on hand to announce first-, second- and third-place winners in the weight and decorating categories. Winners received $300, $200 and $100, respectively, in combined gifts and gift certificates from local merchants such as Olive Garden, Old Country Buffet, Liberty Lanes bowling alley, Barb's Studio 104, Diamond Jim's, and Dundee Nursery.

Karen Nedli of Carpentersville took second place with her "Jesse the Black Cat" pumpkin, while first place went to Sharyn Joseph of Gilberts for her giant hamburger and fries.

Joseph used a large pumpkin as the bun and dragged a wooden stepping stone out of her garden (aged to medium well) for the burger, which was accessorized with lettuce, pickles, cheese, onion and condiments just before show time. "One day I looked at that stepping stone and said, 'That looks like a hamburger!'" she recalled, noting that possibly she was hungry at the time.

In the largest pumpkin category, a 140-pound gourd in a sagging wheelbarrow earned $300 in merchandise and gift certificates plus a framed certificate for the Brewer family of East Dundee. Cyndi and Peter Brewer used the adjacent bike path to wheel their record-setting entry alongside son Blake's stroller.

Twelve-year-old Ryan Saxon of Cary came in second with an 87-pound pumpkin, and Tim and Heather Horcher of Marengo came in a close third place, winning $100 in gift certificates for their bright orange pumpkin that weighed in at 84 pounds.

“As always, we had great entries, and we’re always so grateful to the businesses that donate all the prizes," Zelsdorf said. "It's a fun way to bring people down to the market, and it's a nice way to end our season." Other prize donations included merchandise and gift certificates from Dundee Dairy Queen, Piece-A-Cake Bakery, One Cut Above the Rest salon, Dundee Manor restaurant, Denny’s, West Dundee’s Jewel/Osco, Phil Aleo, Haeger Potteries, and Wal-Mart.

The Dundee Township Visitor’s Center will remain open weekends through December 4th, which is the weekend for Dickens in Dundee. For more information about the Visitor's Center or next year's Farmer's Market, visit www.dundeedepot.com, or find "Dundee Depot" on Facebook.

The Brewer Family -- 14-month-old Blake, Cyndi and Peter -- of East Dundee took first place with their 140-pound pumpkin. The 12th-annual event was hosted by the Dundee Township Visitor's Center and marked the end of the market season for 2010.

Here's Sharyn Joseph's winning pumpkin hamburger aged to "medium well."

Some other great entries:

Tim and Heather of T&H Farms with their 84-pound pumpkin.

Mrs. Pierson of East Dundee carves a great pumpkin every year!

6-year-old Amelia's entry:

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