If you want to learn about someplace, you can always pick up a textbook. But if you want to get to know a place, you're going to have to dig a little deeper. And what you find there might be a little strange. The Strange States series will take you on a virtual tour of America to uncover the unusual people, places, things, and events that make this country such a unique place to call home. This week we’re heading to The Granite State—New Hampshire.

New Hampshire’s Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off and Regatta

Pumpkins are good for a lot of things—pie, Jack-O-Lanterns, more pie—but in the mind of visionary Jim Beauchemin of Goffstown, New Hampshire, they also make good boats.  So, in 2000, he worked with the town to found the Goffstown Pumpkin Weigh-Off and Regatta, held every year since in mid-October.

Now, obviously a sea-worthy pumpkin can’t be your average, run of the mill melon. Instead, you need one of the 500-plus pound colossus squashes that are routinely grown by members of the New Hampshire Giant Pumpkin Growers Association (NHGPGA). According to their website, the NHGPGA is “dedicated to the sport of growing giant pumpkins,” and once every year at the Goffstown Weigh-Off, the growers haul in their biggest and best orange-skinned monstrosities to face the scales. This year, the competition was fierce, with two pumpkins battling for first place with a weight of 1280 pounds. But after the scales were fine-tuned and the pumpkins weighed again, Peter Crisp from Nashua, New Hampshire, eked out the win with a final weight of 1284 pounds. 

Of course, as the name implies, the weigh-off is only part of the fun. The regatta down a portion of the Piscataquod River consists of 10 hollowed-out giant pumpkins, sailed by dedicated captains, usually dressed in the craziest outfits they can find. This year, Chief of Police Robert Browne won the race, dressed as a particular spinach-loving sailor man, beating out, among others, a zombie, Thing 1 from The Cat in the Hat, and a guy billing himself as “The Phantom of Town Hall.” 

If the pumpkin ships don’t float your boat, you can still fill out the weekend with punkin’ chunkin’ slingshots, an art show, a pumpkin cook-off, hot air balloon rides, live music, BBQ, a pie eating contest, the crowning of the Prince and Princess of the festival, and much more.  

For more photos and videos of the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off and Regatta, visit the town’s Facebook page

Have the scoop on an unusual person, place or event in your state?  Tell me about it on Twitter (@spacemonkeyx) and maybe I’ll include it in a future edition of Strange States!

Read other entries in the Strange States series here