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Local News

Family brings statewide pumpkin-growing prizes to Midway

Giant Pumpkin First Prize 2019 2021 Jamie Johnson
Jamie Johnson
Jamie Johnson smiles with "Uncle Sam," the 1,325-pound pumpkin he grew in 2019 and the largest ever grown in Wasatch County.

A father-son duo in Midway has earned a reputation for getting into the Halloween spirit. They begin preparations in the spring and this year earned statewide recognition.

Midway’s own Jamie and Bode Johnson took first and 15th places at the Utah pumpkin-growing contest this year.

Jamie, a web developer who started growing giant pumpkins 15 years ago, grew a 902-pound pumpkin this year. And Wasatch High School sophomore Bode grew one weighing in at 674 pounds, his personal best.

Jamie began when Bode was still an infant and the family lived in Colorado. Bode joined in on the fun a few years later.

“I’ve got a competitive nature,” Jamie said. “My goal, the secret goal, was that I wanted to have the biggest jack-o-lantern on the street. There was a little community weigh-off that I took it to, and I won first prize by one pound, and it was 141 pounds. After that, I thought, ‘I need to grow those thousand-pounders that I see in the newspaper.’ I got the right kind of seeds, and the next year I grew a 755-pounder and have been hooked ever since.”

The Johnsons don’t identify as farmers but have a big garden. They began growing the pumpkins in late April this year and weighed them in late September.

amber johnson giant pumpkin 2019 2021 midway
Jamie Johnson
Amber Johnson, wife of Jamie, smiles with a 1,220-pound pumpkin from a past Halloween.

It’s far from their first experience with pumpkin glory. In 2019, Jamie grew the Heber Valley’s biggest pumpkin ever at 1,325 pounds.

Before he ever entered a general competition, Bode won several junior-level competitions. His older sister Hadley did as well.

Along with winning prizes, the pumpkins have served as impressive driveway decorations at their houses. Some years, they’ve donated them to community celebrations. They’re so big the family has even used them as hiding places for scaring trick-or-treaters.

“A pumpkin that’s of the size of 1,000 pounds or something around that is usually going to be about four feet wide and maybe about three and a half feet tall. The meat on these pumpkins, it’s not uncommon for them to be, like, a foot thick. Unlike your little carving pumpkins, when you carve these things, often times you’re using a really big knife or a chainsaw,” Jamie said.

The Johnsons aren’t keeping their recipe to success secret. They say the seeds are the trick to growing the huge plants.

Starting November 1, Bode and Hadley are selling seeds to raise money for a college fund. Hadley graduates high school in May, and Bode’s two years behind her. They’ll be available for delivery or pickup in Midway.

The Johnsons are part of the group Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers. To order seeds or find out more about the group, visit pumpkinsforcollege.com.