EMMETSBURG, Iowa (KCAU) — It’s harvest time on the Kibbie farm near Emmetsburg. Another growing season is coming to an end. Nurturing a crop is something Joel Kibbie, 27, has been doing for as long as he can remember.
“My mom would always have a flower garden and I’d pull out a couple flowers and make my own area and plant seeds found in the cupboard,” said Kibbie.
The harvest includes traditional crops like corn and soybeans and for the last six years, something with a little more girth.
“2016 was my first year and I grew a 315 lb pumpkin. As a kid, I thought that was amazing. When I first started, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how to fertilize, so I dumped cattle manure on it. That got toxic, but I still got a 315 lb pumpkin out of it,” said Kibbie.
Over the years, Kibbie has figured out how best to grow a gourd.
“Every year, I learn more and more about it. There’s a science to it. You got to worry about the soil, the fertility, the microbes, making sure everything is healthy. After transplanting the pumpkin outside, the plant will grow into July before starting pollinating. After the plant is 15 feet long, that’s when you pollinate the pumpkin 70-100 days when we pick the pumpkin,” said Kibbie.
Kibbie’s creations tipped the scale at more than 600 and 700 pounds winning awards and praise along the way. Then in September, the biggest prize of all: accolades he never saw coming, but will surely will cherish for the rest of his life.
“At the Clay County Fair, I won first place. They wrote Joel Kibbie 682 pounds, Emmetsburg Iowa,” said Kibbie.
“My nephew and I were just walking around and he actually asked me, ‘How do they get them this big?’ I said, ‘I don’t know,'” said Katie Kibbie.
Little did Katie’s nephew know, his simple question packed the power of Cupid’s arrow.
“She was walking by and happened to see and was wondering how it got that big. Had my name on the pumpkin and she messages me on Facebook and the rest is history,” said Joel.
That September 2021 chance meeting over a pumpkin led to a lakeside marriage a year later.
“It wasn’t my intention to find somebody. I was just curious and we continued to talk about growing pumpkins and gardening,” said Katie.
“I never thought I’d get a girlfriend or wife, finance because of growing giant pumpkins, but it worked out that way. It’s crazy, I never thought that would happen. Just brought my pumpkin there to win first place and came home with a girlfriend. So, if anyone wants giant pumpkin seeds, I can hand them out if they want to have a chance of getting a significant other,” said Joel.
The Kibbies just recently wrapped up the 2022 show season together, taking 11th place with a 604 lb pumpkin at the Anamosa Pumpkin Festival. Their sights set on many happy pumpkin planting years to come.
“He got my dad involved, it’s been fun to bond over,” said Katie.
“The goal is to get over 1,000 pounds and I think it could happen next year,” Joel said.
As any good son-in-law would do, Joel is now sharing his pumpkin prowess with his wife’s family. At the 2022 Clay County Fair Pumpkin Contest, Joel placed in second and his father-in-law first with a 570 lb pumpkin.