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Family carves out winning streak in pumpkin contest

Mitch Saxon's face carving took first prize best carved/decorated category Saturday Dundee Township Visitor's Center East Dundee. 10/27/12 | ErSauder~For

Mitch Saxon's face carving took first prize in the best carved/decorated category Saturday at the Dundee Township Visitor's Center in East Dundee. 10/27/12 | Erin Sauder~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 29, 2012 6:38AM

EAST DUNDEE — Winning pumpkin decorating contests is a family affair for the Saxons.

Last year, Ryan Saxon of Cary won a first-place prize in the Dundee Township Visitor’s Center annual Great Pumpkin Contest.

On Saturday, it was his father’s turn.

“I tried to get my son to enter again this year, but he’s 14 now so I guess he thinks he’s too cool,” Mitch Saxon said with a laugh.

He spent about four hours on his prize-winning entry, which was an intricate face carved in the pumpkin skin.

The Great Pumpkin Contest, which coincided with the end of the season for the Dundee Farmer’s Market, was held at the visitor’s center, located at 319 N. River St..

For the contest, area businesses donated more than $800 in prizes for winners in two categories: heaviest (by weight) and best decorated/carved. The top three vote-getters in each category are awarded prizes.

Bill Zelsdorf is the brainchild behind the annual contest and manager of the visitor’s center.

“It’s fun for the community and brings attention to the farmer’s market and the visitor’s center,” he said.

He started it after seeing the success of the annual Largest Tomato Contest, also sponsored by the Dundee Township Visitor’s Center and held in August.

Zelsdorf said entries for this year’s Great Pumpkin Contest were slightly down this year.

“I don’t know if the drought hurt the pumpkins,” he said.

Second- and third-place winners for the decorated/carved pumpkins were the Rudd Family and Breann Volberding, respectively.

Blake Brewer took home first prize for the largest pumpkin, with his entry weighing in at 100 pounds. Both his and Saxon’s first-place wins netted them $300 in prizes. Second place-winner was Maddie Kirmse with a 48-pound pumpkin, and Grey Hoffman with a 44-pound pumpkin.

Zelsdorf lauds the support from the local merchants for the contest.

“I don’t think anyone else in this area has $300 prizes for a pumpkin contest,” he said.

He urges the community to shop their local businesses.

“Their success means our success,” he said.

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