After that success, Joel and Grace set a new goal. They would grow the biggest pumpkin that had ever been grown in the state. Joel made sure Grace understood it might take years for them to do it.
Again, they pampered pumpkins all summer long. Grace's biggest pumpkin was much larger than the 127-pound one they entered in 2008. It weighed about 200 pounds.
When they got to Montgomery with their 200-pound pumpkin, they quickly saw it would not be getting a ribbon. It was dwarfed by three other entries. The largest one weighed more than 500 pounds.
Now Grace was not upset because her pumpkin did not get a ribbon, but the couple who got all three ribbons and all the prize money appeared to be. They probably had not realized children would be involved until they saw Grace, a skinny second-grader with glasses and no front teeth.
The winners told Grace and her parents that when they cut their mammoth sized pumpkin they would send Grace some of the seeds. They also told them how they had grown the pumpkins.
It reminded me of what a teacher told my classmates and me decades ago. That teacher was wiser than I realized at the time. She said the jobs many of us would have in our lifetimes did not exist at that time. She was right. Of course, she was talking about advances in technology that would occur.
But I do not believe my teacher was talking about what the people who made a clean sweep of all the ribbons and prize money at the state fair do. They are butterfly farmers. The pumpkins had been planted in the protective screened gardens where they grow butterflies.
According to the Web site for the International Butterfly Breeders Inc., butterfly farmers grow and sell butterflies to be released for weddings, funerals, graduations, birthdays and other special occasions.
I wondered how much it would cost to buy a butterfly. Fragrant Acres, a butterfly farm in Chickamauga, sells 100 Painted Lady butterflies for $2.95 each. Monarch butterflies cost more. You can get 100 of them for $7.50 each. "Don't worry! Butterflies ship very well!" assures an advertisement for Fragrant Acres.
The butterflies are packaged in a decorative box with a flower arrangement on the box lid, or you can get them in individual envelopes if you wish for each of your guests to release a butterfly, too.
The butterflies arrive on the day before the event. The decorative box is packed in an insulated container and cooled with an ice pack. They are in a "sleeping state" and must be stored in a cool place until an hour or two before they are to be released. Then they are moved to a warm, bright place. The butterflies wake up, are alert and ready to fly away when the top is taken off the box.
But going back to that huge pumpkin, how many pumpkin pies would it make? My mama's pumpkin pie recipe is a good one. It calls for one pound of pumpkin per pie. Math was never my strong suit, but it seems you can make more than 500 pies out of a 500-plus-pound pumpkin.
Several years ago, I went to a peanut butter festival. One of the things to do there was to help in making the world's longest peanut butter sandwich.
I pitched in on that.
However, I would pass on the opportunity to use any of this Goliath pumpkin to make a pie. It is not that I am being a sour grapes grandma because Grace did not win. It is because the prize-winning pumpkins are not orange. They are green. They are bona fide pumpkins, but who wants to eat a pumpkin pie that is green? As someone said, "Green pumpkins are un-American."
But my favorite comment came from Grace's uncle John. He suggested the 500-pounder might be on steroids.
Incidentally, the Cherokee County Fair blue-ribbon pumpkin winner was a giant-sized pumpkin, too. Cathy Brotman's pumpkin weighed more than 300 pounds. Like most of us think pumpkins should be, her pumpkin was orange.
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.