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October is pumpkin month in the US. For most people, this means devouring the various pumpkin-filled treats or visiting pumpkin patches to pick out the perfect gourd to carve for Halloween. However, for some, it means the chance to showcase their giant produce at pumpkin weigh-offs. Though there are numerous such contests held across the country, the “Super Bowl” takes place annually at Half Moon Bay, CA, aka “The World Pumpkin Capital.”
The contest, which recently celebrated its 44th year, has always been extremely popular with master pumpkin growers. However, since 2015, it has become even more so, because contestants now have the potential to take home as much as $30,000 in prize money. To claim the “World Record Prize,” competitors have to submit a “World Record Pumpkin.” This year, that meant one heavier than the gargantuan 2,624-pound pumpkin, which broke the world record at the Giant Pumpkin European Championship in 2016. If the winning entry was unable to surpass the record, the owner would still receive a generous $7 per pound.
This year’s competition, which took place on October 9, attracted over 20 beautiful pumpkins from across the country. The owners, as well as thousands of spectators, watched with bated breath as the fruits were carefully picked up by forklifts and placed on the digital weighing scale. While nine of the entries came in at over 1,100 pounds each, they were no match for seven-time winner Joel Holland’s massive 2,363-pound masterpiece.
Though the retired firefighter from Sumner, WA did not break the world record, he did set a new American record with his giant gourd, which is also the second heaviest pumpkin ever grown! Holland was handsomely rewarded for his efforts, with Half Moon Bay’s coveted “Mel Mello Sr. Grand Champion Green Jacket” and a cash prize of $16,541 ($7 per pound).
2016 champion Cindy Tobeck from Olympia, WA received $2,000 for her 2,002 pounder, while Jeff Uhimeyer of Tumwater, WA took home $1,500 for his 1,927 pound entry. The “Biggest Coastside Pumpkin” award went to Geroge Armanino of Pescadero, CA, while Art Martinez of Fremont, CA won the popular choice award for growing the most beautiful pumpkin. In addition to bragging rights, they each took home a cash prize of $500.
The four heaviest pumpkins have been retained for display at Half Moon Bay’s Art and Pumpkin Festival, taking place this weekend (October 14 to 15). If you are among the lucky ones able to see them, be sure to let us know what the colossal produce looks like up-close, by adding your comments below.