RICHLAND CENTER — Dave Stumpf of Kimberly spent $4,000 in 2013 to build a castle using 17,384 Lincoln Logs.
Deb Hoffmann of Waukesha has more than 11,485 pieces of Winnie the Pooh and Friends memorabilia, while in Poynette, Big Jake, at 15 years old, 2,600 pounds and nearly 6 feet, 11 inches tall, is the world’s largest living horse.
And let’s not forget Don Gorske. Over the last 40 years, the Fond du Lac man has consumed more than 28,000 Big Macs.
Wisconsin is well represented in the Guinness Book of World Records, and another entry is looming.
High school students, church groups, young children, older adults and anyone else who wants to be a part of history will be armed this week in Richland Center with spoons, knives and cordless drills in order to carve more than 3,200 pumpkins. Once the guts are scooped and each pumpkin has a face, the basketball-sized vegetables will be placed Sunday in a line at Krouskop Park along the flood-prone Pine River in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most carved pumpkins in a line or chain.
Yes, there is such a thing.
The current record of 2,015 pumpkins in a line was set almost a year ago by the Eniwa Happy Halloween Executive Committee in Eniwa, Hokkaido, Japan. The effort shattered the previous mark of 1,301 jack-o-lanterns set in 2013 (the category’s first year) in the Canadian city of Calgary.
Richland Center intends to smash the record. The local Walmart has donated the pumpkins, but attendees can also bring their own.
Depending on the turnout, the record could hit 4,000 pumpkins, said Bernadette Maglish, the event’s energetic and optimistic organizer.
“We’re excited,” Maglish said, as she looked over 80 bins with about 40 pumpkins each last week. “Everyone is ready to carve.”
This Thursday, about 450 students from Richland Center High School will take their shot at carving what could be about 1,000 pumpkins. Other groups and individuals will carve on Wednesday and Friday, with the primary carving day scheduled for Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the park.
The hope is to have all of the pumpkins carved by the end of the day Saturday so that on Sunday the finished products can be carefully lined up (they must be touching) and judged at 2 p.m. by a representative from Guinness. He will land in the park in a helicopter along with Mayor Paul F. Corcoran.
The festivities on Saturday and Sunday will include a food court, bouncy houses, live country music, a DJ, face painting and, on Sunday, a big-screen television in the gym of the nearby community center to watch the Green Bay Packers’ game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Maglish has rounded up sponsors to help cover the costs, which include $10,000 to Guinness for the judge and rights to use logos and trademarks. Another $12,000 to $15,000 will go to local charities, including Passages, a women’s shelter for abused women and children; Lydia’s House, a homeless shelter; the Richland Center Food Pantry; the city’s parks department; and a community dog park under development that could open next spring.
“It’s just a wonderful project for the whole community that Bernadette has put together,” said Shane Stibbe, Richland Center’s parks and recreation director. “Everybody’s talking about the pumpkin lady. It’s just a fun event.”
Under the rules, each pumpkin must have a mouth, nose, eyes and eyebrows. When placed in the line, they all must be touching. Success will mean more than 2,000 people can say they helped set a record and join other notables in the book that celebrates human oddities and accomplishments, animals, food, speed and size.
The book also includes another Wisconsin-based record that involves a line. In 2011, the Aluminum Association of America and a team of 60 volunteers, in 24 hours, created the world record chain of cans at the Brown County Fairgrounds in De Pere. It measured 5.37 miles and consisted of 66,343 drink cans.
Pumpkin-related records in the book include those for the heaviest pumpkin (2,323 pounds), largest pumpkin pie (3,699 pounds), pumpkins carved by one person in one hour (109) and the most pumpkins carved simultaneously (1,060).
Now, it appears Richland Center is about to join the list.
Anyone who takes part can sign the bottom of their pumpkin and take it home after the event. Certificates with the Guinness logo commemorating the event will also be handed out to each participant. More information can be found on the event’s Facebook page or by calling the parks department at 608-647-8108, ext. 1.
Carving tools will be supplied, including cordless drills that will be used to help gut pumpkins and drill holes for eyes. Maglish said volunteers can also bring their own tools. Seeds from carving on Wednesday and Thursday will be saved in 5-gallon buckets, roasted and offered up on Saturday.
But rounding up 3,000 pumpkins turned into a challenge after a frost earlier this year severely reduced pollination by bees and reduced the local pumpkin crop. Maglish initially thought she could get 1,000 pumpkins each from three area farms. Instead, she was told that would be a difficult order to fill.
Don Fieldhouse, the manager of the Walmart, worked with his company to source the pumpkins from Frey Farms in Indiana.
“It’s amazing that it’s even happening,” Maglish said. “Without Walmart stepping in this wouldn’t have happened.”
Maglish grew up in Indiana and moved to Richland Center 18 years ago as a single mother. She operates a group home for adults with disabilities and works with hospice patients.
The idea for the pumpkin record came about after speaking with Nancy Tiegs, a recently retired physical education and health teacher and lifelong resident of the city who has a massive Halloween display at her home each fall on East 7th Street.
Tiegs, who will be honored this week for her displays, went to her computer and researched community pumpkin events.
“I got online and started looking at Guinness World Records,” Tiegs said. “I (told Maglish), ‘I think this one the city can do.’ I know there’s a lot of kids who can carve and there are people in the community who can carve.”
For more than 30 years,Tiegs has had one of the largest Halloween displays in the area, and for the last 15 years it has included over 100 carved pumpkins. She can hand out up to 900 treats each Halloween and have 2,000 to 3,000 people visit, but this year may be her last as she is looking for a home on a lake.
Community events in Richland Center include Motorsports Mayhem in May, which features a demolition derby, truck and tractor pulls, and snowmobiles, ATV, dirt bike and truck and car drags. Churning Dirt is in July with a mud run, carnival and monster truck show, while the Hybrid Redneck Rally was earlier this month with mud racers, pulls and drag races.
The community also hosts the state High School Rodeo championships; Thunder in the Hills, a huge fireworks display; and, from Thanksgiving through December, a holiday light display. This week’s pumpkin event could instantly be a major draw.
“I think it’s going to get a lot of publicity,” said Sherry Klatt, the city’s tourism and events coordinator. “It’s going to draw a lot of people and put Richland Center on the map.”