The name Manitoba may not be quite well-known internationally; however, you’ll be surprised and also proud to know and discover the hidden gems of the prarie province: several places are world title-holders on their own special categories.
Known for beluga whales, Churchill is the polar bear capital of the world. Neepawa with 2,000 varieties of lilies is the lily capital of the world. The town of Selkirk calls itself the catfish capital on the planet. Morden is home to the world’s largest collection of marine reptiles and world’s largest mosasaur on public display in the world. The Narcisse Snake Dens have the world’s largest concentration of red-sided garter snakes. Winnipeg’s Festival du Voyageur is the world’s largest kitchen party. And last but not the least Roland is home of the world’s largest pumpkin!
Roland is a village of about 1,129 people, predominantly rural, in the Pembina Valley regions of the province of Manitoba. This rural municipality is governed by elected officials – a reeve and four councillors. Its economy has always been agriculturally-based with its fertile soil yielding grains, canola, corn, sunflowers, and beans.
Amenities are quite handy with a gas station, a convenience store, a post office, and a restaurant, the Roland’s Roadhouse. Roland is also home to Roland 9-hole golf course.
The world’s largest pumpkin, created in 1990 during the Roland centennial, is a super-sized pumpkin replica, standing 12 feet tall, measuring 12 feet wide, weighing 1,684 lbs. and is constructed out of steel rods and covered in orange fibreglass. The landmark is a tribute to honor the town’s world record pumpkin growing “Pumpkin King”, Edgar VanWyck, a local resident who made the Guinness Book of World Records in 1977 for growing the largest pumpkin.
Every year on the first Saturday of October Roland celebrates the one-day fun-filled Pumpkin Festival with the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth Weigh-off, always held at the Roland Arena, as the main highlight. Pumpkin entries from across southern Manitoba and beyond as far as Minnesota are weighed and the heaviest is declared as the winner of the $1,500 grand prize. The 2019 monster pumpkin, weighing 1,660.5 lbs. was grown by Cornie Banman from Shanzenfeld, Manitoba, breaking the Manitoba-grown record. Prizes are also handed out for the heaviest squash, the heaviest tomato and the heaviest watermelon.
Roland has earned international fame as the birthplace of the 4-H Club (head, heart, hands, health). It all started here in Roland as it was the community in which the first organisational meeting was held in 1913.
Roland boasts Juno-nominated international children’s musicians, Lulu & the Tom Cat, formed right here in Roland in 2001 by Lori Lulu and Thomas Neufeld. The group has performed concerts and produced children’s albums.