Paul Sankey was the winner of the “Big Onion Heavyweight Award” at this year’s Onion Growers Garden Club competition, hosted by the Colusa Lions Club at Will S. Green Park in Colusa on June 19. Lions Club member and event organizer Jim Pingrey said that there were a total of about eight competitors and more than 35 spectators at the event this year.
For the past 13 years, gardeners have competed in the event to see who can grow the heaviest red onions. Growers bring their three largest onions to be weighed at the event. Sankey grew one that was 2.683 pounds – the largest of any entered into the competition this year – to earn the Heavyweight Award.
But it’s not just the biggest onion that gets the prize – the Lions Club has a handful of other awards they hand out during the competition.
Rookie of the Year – awarded to the first-year competitor with the largest onion – went to Dave Ferraiuolo, who also came in second place overall for the Middleweight Award. John Rogers was awarded the Lightweight Award for having the smallest onion.
“Toby Reading got the Rotarian Award for having someone else grow his onion,” said Pingrey, adding that the award was added to the list about five years ago.
The Lions Club also gives out an award for the “biggest cheater.”
“That award went to a fellow from Gridley that entered a yellow onion,” Pingrey said.
The Onion Growers Garden Club was started by Jim Reading in 2005 as part of the Lions Club’s ‘year-end’ barbecue, Pingrey said, adding that the service club goes dormant in the summer.
“We felt the onions paired nicely with a hamburger, hotdog, or sausage,” he added. “We had some gardeners in the club, so the rest is history, thanks to Jim Reading.”