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“Pumpkinheads” vie for cash prize

“Pumpkinheads” standing on boxes tried to outlast each other last Saturday in the City Plaza. Photo credit: Christine Lee.

People stood on crates like scarecrows with pumpkins for heads under the blazing sun in the downtown plaza to win $1,000 last Saturday.

Z-ROCK-FM’s 17th annual Pumpkinhead contest started at around 8 a.m., lasting the whole day until 8:35 p.m. when the winner was announced.

Ted Shred, 47, owner of a bike messenger company, DJ for RedBull and former professional skateboarder, was this year’s Pumpkinhead champion.

“The pumpkin’s baking on your head, flies are getting in there, your back starts hurting, you gotta do all these weird challenges and you have to be better than every single person out here,” said Shred.

This is the third time Shred has won the contest. He won last year and in 2010.

“I’m old too. Everybody I beat is young, I don’t get it,” he said. “These kids needs to start doing their exercises, eat their wheaties or something.”

Shred was one of 17 contestants that day. Second place went to Jeremiah Seeden, 24, who fell off his crate trying to do the “Ukranian deadlift”. Other stunts the contestants had to do while standing on crates included the “superman”, the “DUI”, the “crane”, twerking, and, at times, simultaneously with shake weights.

Z-ROCK-FM has two requirements for eligible contestants, that they be 18 or older and that they are creative individuals.

“We want interesting people on air, we want interesting personalities,” said Jeremy Votava, Z-ROCK-FM production assistant and radio personality known as “V” on air.

When interviewing possible contestants, he asks each person what they do and why they want to be a Pumpkinhead.

Votava was broadcasting live on radio from the plaza where the “pumpkinheads” stood all day, updating radio listeners about the contest. He taunted the contestants by eating food in front of them and directed them to do various stunts each round when someone needed to be eliminated.

“It’s just part of the weird things about Chico that evolved,” said Robert Benjamin, Z-ROCK-FM operations manager.

Benjamin met the woman who won the first contest 17 years ago, Barbara Stark, last Saturday morning. She came up to him and introduced herself, later reuniting with other Z-ROCK-FM crewmembers who witnessed the first Pumpkinhead contest.

In the first competitions, people stood for 45 hours and were allowed breaks, Benjamin said.

Today, people stand for 12 to 14 hours with no breaks, he said. The contestants are allowed to bring food and water with them and are allowed to have other people bring them food and water.

Shred said he fell asleep six or seven times while standing. He brought CLIF Bars, packs of salmon and water to get him through the standing contest.

“Honestly, I always tell people, the night before get to bed by nine o’clock,” said Shred. “Maybe have a couple beers, drink a big glass of water before you go to bed, wake up in the morning, pee and don’t have any liquid until noon.

“What I did is, I drank four beers last night and a bunch of whiskey and got to bed by 1:30. Then I woke up at five. I didn’t drink water until my wife showed up around 11 and I felt like crap.”

Shred advised Seeden to cut the pumpkin thinner, leave it outside or put it in the fridge the day before the contest. He said he was going to give the $1,000 to his wife and use it to help their move to Texas.

“I’ll just spend it on candy and gum and shoes,” said Shred. “Of course, we’ll work it out and she’ll have it.”

Shred said he will be back next year to compete again.

Christine Lee can be reached at [email protected] or @leechris017 on Twitter

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