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PALMER, Alaska (Reuters) — A 10-year-old boy has won Alaska's annual giant cabbage contest, submitting a 92.3-pound specimen named "Bob" to officials at the state fair.
Keevan Dinkel of Wasilla, Alaska, produced this year's winning entry, which was carried in by several Boy Scouts, in the Alaska State Fair's Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off on Friday night.
His giant cabbage, which rose to about thigh height on a typical adult, and those of other contestants were weighed at the fairgrounds in Palmer, in a contest watched by hundreds of onlookers, attended by green-clad women dressed as "cabbage fairies" and monitored by a representative of the state Division of Weights and Measures.
Produce can grow to enormous sizes under Alaska's summer midnight sun. Growing big cabbages is a tradition in this part of the state, just north of Anchorage, which is considered Alaska's main farm belt.
This year was the first time in the contest's 18 years that a child has won the weigh-off, according to state fair officials. The fair offers a junior competition for growers 12 and younger, but Keevan's entry was put into the adult open category because of its size.
Keevan, whose family operates a local farm, took home $2,000 for his prize-winner.
Keevan's "Bob" fell short of the world-record 138.3-pound cabbage, called the "Palmer Pachyderm," grown last year by Palmer greenhouse owner Scott Robb.
While the unusually hot and sunny summer was good for many crops, that was not the case for the traditional green cabbages, said growers attending Friday's fair weigh-in.
"Cabbages are a cold crop. They like their roots warm and their heads cool," said Mardie Robb, Scott Robb's wife.
Alaska's giant vegetables also face hazards, including marauding moose that are fond of poaching would-be winners while they are growing in gardens, and flaws that might develop during growing can knock them out of contention.
This year, a potential state-champion pumpkin, a 1,289-pound specimen named "Time Bandit" and grown by J.D. Megchelsen of Nikiski, was disqualified because of a hole, violating rules calling for vegetables to be structurally intact. Absent the hole, it would have just beaten the Alaska pumpkin record of 1,287 pounds that Megchelsen set in 2011. Instead, this year's blue ribbon went to a 1,182-pound pumpkin named "Eva" that was grown in Anchorage.
(Editing by Scott Malone and Mohammad Zargham)