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Illinois 18th Is Tops for Pumpkins

If you’re looking for the Great Pumpkin, he just might be hiding out in Rep. Ray LaHood’s (R-Ill.) 18th Congressional district — the nation’s top pumpkin-producing House seat.

Indeed, the village of Morton, the “Pumpkin Capital of the World” and home to the Nestle/Libby’s pumpkin packing plant, is located in the district. The plant processes 80 percent of the world’s canned pumpkins — many of which end up in mom’s pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day.

LaHood, who doesn’t grow pumpkins himself, is partial to the Morton Pumpkin Festival held each September. (For those who prefer catapulting their pumpkins great distances, there’s Morton’s annual “Punkin Chuckin’ Contest,” which was slated to take place over the weekend.)

“I usually run in the 10K race they have and … then take part in the parade,” LaHood said of the festival.

But the Congressman’s favorite aspect of the shindig comes after the workout. “I love the pumpkin pancakes,” he gushed, noting the pumpkin chili also is quite good.

— Bree Hocking