CARBONDALE — Hannah Banana won it by a stem.

The 100 pound, plus-sized pumpkin, sponsored by the Neighborhood Co-op, beat out 200 pound monster Liam's Pumpkin by a fraction of a second Saturday, taking the grand prize in the 5th annual Carbondale Pumpkin Race.

Francis Murphy, general manger of The Co-op, was clearly taken by the surprise victory, almost at a loss for words.

"I think this is great," he said as his team was presented with the $500 purse provided by Mayer Branding. Murphy said they planned to donate the winnings, but said because they hadn't anticipated coming away with a win, they were not sure to whom the money would go.

Steering was the clear issue for teams — many contestants couldn't keep straight on the track, coming up short as a result. In fact, one pumpkin's wheels locked and instead of gliding down the hill tumbled end over end — not a winner but a clear crowd favorite.

In a pre-race comment, Murphy said the key to success in his team's eyes were the axles. They had weight to their advantage but without a straight, even ride, they knew the wouldn't have a chance.

Contest rules state that the axles needed to go through the pumpkin. Entrants that were deemed not to be street-legal in the short, quarter block race, met a grizzly fate — they came under the hammer of Olympian and former SIU field event star DeAnna Price.  

The event was co-sponsored by The Rotary Club of Carbondale-Breakfast in conjunction with Carbondale Main Street. Aur Beck, president of the club, said the event was a perfect example of what Rotary does — provide free fun that raises money for good causes. 

Marcia Sinnott took the idea for the race five years ago from a family visit to Oswego. She said when she saw the event there she knew it would be perfect in Carbondale. 

"I thought it would fill a great niche," she said. 

Given Carbondale's checkered past with the Halloween holiday, Beck said the Pumpkin Race helped provide a way for the community to celebrate in a big, but controlled way.

"We are taking to the streets positively," Beck said.

This story has been updated to correctly identify Mayer Branding as the provider of the race's prize money.


On Twitter: @ismithreports



Isaac Smith is a reporter covering Franklin, Perry and Saline counties.

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