Cheyenne Pumpkin Fanatic Hopes To Regain Wyoming Record This Weekend
Andy Corbin has been waiting for this weekend all year long. Tomorrow, the Cheyenne resident will find out if this year's prized pumpkin is big enough to reclaim the Wyoming state record, which currently stands at 1,322 lbs.
"I don't want to jinx it," Corbin joked. "I do have one that I'm hoping will get there, but we won't know for sure until it's on the scale."
Corbin set the state record with a 1,268-lb. pumpkin in 2015. The next year, Riverton resident Ron Hoffman broke the record using seeds from one of Corbin's pumpkins. The two have shared a friendly rivalry for nearly a decade.
Corbin's passion for pumpkins began as a child in Cody. He rediscovered the hobby in 2008 when another Cheyenne pumpkin enthusiast, John Stellern, gave him some seeds. A year later, Andy broke the Laramie County record and began consulting with growers around the country, learning through trial and error how to nurture giant pumpkins in southeast Wyoming's unpredictable climate.
"We tuck them in at night to keep them warm," Corbin noted as he covered his prize pumpkin with blankets. "For a few months, they're almost like our kids."
Cold weather inhibits growth, which makes the process more difficult for Corbin. After sharing seeds and ideas with farmers from Wisconsin, he added misters to replicate the humidity of the midwest. Along with fertilizing the pumpkins, regulating their temperature, and monitoring for fungus and diseases, Corbin built netting around the garden to protect the crop from hail storms. He also engineered a tripod system to safely hoist the giant pumpkins onto a trailer each fall when they compete in weigh-offs around the region.
When he's not in the garden, the UW grad is the Chief Technology Officer for the Wyoming Community College Commission. His wife of 23 years, Amy Corbin, is a third-grade teacher who has learned to embrace her husband's hobby over the years.
"It was his obsession at first, but now it's turned into mine," she said. "I really enjoy it."
Along with giant pumpkins, Andy and Amy grow green beans, potatoes, and several varieties of gourds. Last year, they broke another Wyoming state record with a 678-lb. squash. This year, they could break more records for long gourds and bushel gourds.
This year, Andy plans to show four pumpkins at events in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Fort Collins. While Corbin won't be attending the annual Wyoming Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Worland, he will be monitoring the results online, hoping to wrestle back the state record from his old friend Ron Hoffman.
Corbin is also the regional representative for the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, an organization that connects growers around the country, and manages the popular Pumpkin Fanatic website and social media channels. He is one of several pumpkin growers in the Cheyenne area, including John Stellern, Dr. David Lind, and meteorologist Don Day.