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Minnesota man grows 3 pumpkins totaling 5,200 pounds

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LANCASTER, Minn. — Charlie Bernstrom took the internet by storm 3 years ago, when he dropped a nearly 1,500-pound pumpkin on top of a minivan.

Now the man from Lancaster is looking to do more damage this year.

“It's just addicting,” Bernstrom said.

Bernstrom said his 1,600-pound pumpkin wouldn't do enough damage to a car, so he donated “Gretchen the Super Gourd” to Finnegans Brew Co. in Minneapolis. Finnegans took a saw to its 12-inch walls, gutted it and soon it will be foaming with 120 gallons of a brown stout just in time for Halloween.

It's believed to be the first time a beer was brewed inside a pumpkin.

“It's pretty cool to see your pumpkins get used liked that,” Bernstrom said.

But Bernstrom's got an even plumper pumpkin — 1,753 pounds of all-natural gourd. It not only took home first place at the Roland Pumpkin Fair in Manitoba over the weekend, it set a record for largest pumpkin ever in the province.

“It's way bigger than anything else I have grown before,” he said.

Except for one.

“This pumpkin here is estimated from 1,850 to 1,870 pounds," he said.

It’s more than 17-feet round. The giant ball of orange is headed to Stillwater, Minn., this week for the Stillwater Harvest Fest. There, Bernstrom is going for the Minnesota state record hoping his estimate is a little off of 1,918 1/2 pounds.

“I know the guy who holds the state record pretty good, and we do some trashing back and forth.”

Bernstrom started growing the 5,200 pounds of pumpkins back in April inside his house. From there, to a special greenhouse, where he would work on them two hours a day for more than three months.

“You have to bury all the vines to make the roots better, have to water, fertilize, fungicide, weed, just plant maintenance,” he said.

Toward the end they would grow up to 50 pounds a day for a few weeks.

“It’s a stresser reliever and a stress causer growing them,” Bernstrom said.

Especially traveling hundreds of miles with them in his pickup.

“The whole process is nerve wracking. They are big and thick but they are pretty fragile," Bernstrom said. 

Next year though, Bernstrom said he will take it easy. He is throwing all of his seeds into just two pumpkins. He's got something else growing.

“Well, we are having a kid in March so I figured I should downsize a little bit,” Bernstrom said.

Bernstrom has big plans for these big pumpkins.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, on the football field in Lancaster, he will drop both of them 80 feet from a crane.

One will be dropped onto two stacked cars. What he will try to crush with the other one is still undecided.

The event is a fundraiser for the Kittson County Literacy Council.