Giant Gourds Used to Compete for a Good Cause

Thousands of people gathered on the Burlington waterfront on Columbus Day weekend to witness the 5th Annual NEFCU Giant Pumpkin Regatta. Despite the chilly fall weather, 32 teams made up of 20 companies, several pumpkin growers and students bravely competed in gourds weighing over 300 pounds in Lake Champlain. The team of FreePress Media/Deal Chicken paddled their way to an orange pumpkin trophy that they can proudly display in their office for a year.

This annual event benefits the PILOT (Program to Inspire Leadership, Opportunity & Thought) sponsored by Linking Learning to Life. PILOT is offered to local high school juniors to help them learn about their community.  These students take an in depth look at topics such as Human Services, Government & Politics, Criminal Justice, Health Care, and Media and their relationship to the community.

This event would not occur without the Giant Vegetable Grower’s Association who dedicate significant time and effort to growing gourds that are large enough to navigate the lake. Thank you to the Growers, our corporate sponsor – the New England Federal Credit Union, and all the companies that sponsored a pumpkin for a good cause.  This event typically raises $30,000 for the PILOT program. The Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce is pleased to be a partner in this event, and if you would like more information, contact Cari Kelley at

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