Potirothon de Gentilly: A festival dedicated to the pumpkin

Published / Updated on

This October is pumpkin season! In Gentilly, in the Center-du-Québec region, a giant pumpkin competition was held on September 28. Called the Potirothon de Gentilly, this family celebration ends on October 12 with a pumpkin race on the water!

For several years, in the fall, one of the most important giant pumpkin competitions in Quebec has been held in Gentilly. Named Potirothon (combination of the words “pumpkin” and “marathon”), this event “stands out from other giant pumpkin competitions thanks to its philosophy which makes it a family and friendly competition where honor is the only reward. "
Source: Potirothon.ca
Competitors wishing to participate in the Potirothon are invited in the spring to plant the pumpkin seeds given to them during an activity in April. The goal of the Pumpkin is to grow the biggest pumpkin possible in order to win the weigh-in which takes place on the last Saturday in September. The weighing of the 23e The Potirothon edition took place last week: “The biggest pumpkin registered a weight of 1447 pounds, enough to impress the spectators gathered on a summer-like Saturday afternoon. "
Source: Press
Tomorrow, several participants will meet on the Bécancour River to race aboard their giant pumpkin. The regatta is in fact the highlight of the Potirothon.
The following activities will allow you to better understand the pumpkin festivities and to understand how a giant pumpkin can be used as a boat.


At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:
- Carry out research on a specific website;
- Discover the history of the Gentilly Potirothon, its activities as well as the records concerning giant pumpkins;
- Design a boat that will float on the water from a ball of plasticine;
- Make hypotheses on the buoyancy of plasticine and make observations during an experiment;
- Group words together in order to discover portmanteau words;
- Invent portmanteau words and illustrate them in drawings;
- Understand why Gentilly is often talked about in the media and observe the Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant on Google Maps.

Suggested activities

ACTIVITY 1: The Gentilly Pumpkin

Invite students to discover the Gentilly Pumpkin Patch by browsing the event website. Alone or in teams, students must complete the following diagram by consulting the website Potirothon.ca

 Click on the image to enlarge.
Download the source file in Inspiration (.isf) format
Download the file in PDF format (.pdf)

To end the activity, discuss with the students the weight of the Pumpkin Patch.
What do we notice from year to year?
How do growers transport their pumpkin to the weighing site?
How do giant pumpkins float on the river?

ACTIVITY 2: How does a pumpkin float?

As a whole class, observe the images of the Gentilly Giant Pumpkin Regatta on the following website:
Désautels - Radio-Canada
Ask the students about the phenomenon observed. Why do pumpkins float?
Suggest that the students do an experiment in class. In teams of three or four, they will have to design and build a plasticine boat that will float on the water.
Give the teams a ball of play dough, preferably orange in color to look like a pumpkin. Also, give them a bin filled with water so that they can do their experiment.
Ask them to write down their hypotheses before starting the experiment. Then, while they test their boat, they should write down their observations. Finally, once they have successfully floated their plasticine, they should indicate the design features necessary for buoyancy.

Click on the image to enlarge.
Download the source file in Inspiration (.isf) format
Download the file in PDF format (.pdf)

Go back as a whole class to the experience and formulate a conclusion. Finally, discuss the phenomenon called "Archimedes' thrust" to explain why a boat can float.
To see on this, the beloved Brainpop capsule: Why is the boat floating while its anchor sinks?

ACTIVITY 3: Pumpkin patch: a portmanteau

According to the Office québécois de la langue française, a portmanteau word “results from the fusion of elements borrowed from two or more words. "Pumpkin" is the fusion of the word "pumpkin" (a species of squash similar to pumpkin) and "marathon" (42 km running race).
Suggest the following activity to the students. In each rectangle, they must group two words together to create a portmanteau word. They should then circle the letters of each of the two words that make up the portmanteau word. Finally, they must write this word under the rectangle.

Click on the image to enlarge.
Download the source file in ActivInspire format (.flipchart)
Download the file in SMART Notebook (.notebook) format
Download the file in PDF format (.pdf)

To end the activity, ask the students to invent portmanteau words on the theme of autumn, Halloween or animals. As a whole class, create a lexicon by inviting the students to name words related to the chosen theme. Write these words on the board. Students must choose from these words to create portfolios. Finally, ask them to illustrate these new words by drawing a picture.

For further

Ask students if they have heard of Gentilly before. What can we find in Gentilly, which often makes the headlines in Quebec?
Discuss the Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant. You can even locate it on Google maps in order to allow the pupils to locate it in relation to your position.

More about the magazine

A 1,447 pound pumpkin on the podium in Gentilly
Article in La Presse of September 30, 2013
The Gentilly Pumpkin
Official event website
Archimedes thrust
Wikipedia article
Gentilly sector - City of Bécancour
City website

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