October 6, 2005

Martha Stewart to race pumpkin across Canada lake

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Worried Martha Stewart fans can relax --
the ex-felon lifestyle guru will be rowing a giant 600 lb (270
kg) decorated pumpkin across a Canadian lake this weekend after

Stewart had looked set to miss Sunday's charity pumpkin
race in the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia because her
conviction for lying about a stock trade meant she needed
special permission to enter Canada.

As a U.S. citizen, the founder of Martha Stewart Living
Omnimedia Inc. would not need a visa, but those with criminal
records must apply for a permit.

Stewart initially said she doubted her trip would be
approved in time but Canadian immigration officials, keen to
avoid a public relations faux pas, contacted her office to say
she would quickly get the permit if she applied for one.

The charity race is organized by Howard Dill, a pumpkin
farmer who lives in the town of Windsor, close to the Nova
Scotia capital of Halifax. Canadian newspapers said he had once
grown a pumpkin weighing 980 lb.

"We got a call from Martha Stewart Television about half an
hour ago... She's coming," Dill's son Danny told Reuters by
phone on Thursday.

"We're pretty happy. I mean, this was in the works for
quite a while," he said.

The annual Pumpkin Regatta features politicians, local
celebrities and others who paddle 500 metres (550 yards) across
Windsor's Lake Pesaquid in hollowed-out giant pumpkins.

"The one we've got set aside for Martha weighs 676
pounds... by the time we've maybe cut the hole in it and got it
ready, it'll still be around 600 pounds rowing weight," he

Racers tend to use kayak paddles to get them across the
lake and the good news for Stewart is that "the majority of
them make it," according to Dill.

"The winner has done it usually in 10 minutes. but some
take half an hour, plus there are some in the DNF -- did not
finish (category)," he laughed.