The 2,500-pound largest pumpkin ever grown in California still wasn't big enough to win the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival Pumpkin Weigh-Off, as a farmer from Minnesota drove in a pumpkin that won the contest and set a new world record at 2,749 pounds.
Way back in 1974, the winning pumpkin at the first-ever Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival Pumpkin Weigh-Off competition took the top prize at 132 pounds. But on Monday morning at the 51st annual Pumpkin Weigh-Off, the winning pumpkin came in at 2,749 pounds, and set a new world record — the first time ever that a Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival winner has set a new world record. And you can see that world-record pumpkin in person at the 51st annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival this coming weekend.
“I named this pumpkin ‘Michael Jordan’ because it’s the year ‘23,” last year’s defending Pumpkin Weigh-Off champion Travis Giegner of Anoka, Minnesota told the crowd (23 was Michael Jordan's jersey number). “It started out basketball round, believe it or not, and it’s definitely not basketball round right now.”
Giegner said it took him 33 hours to drive this great pumpkin from Minnesota to Half Moon Bay. And for winning contest again this year, and setting the world record at that, Giegner won a $30,000 cash prize. “Travis, you have gas money to get home,” the contest’s host declared.
Nick Kennedy and Ron Root take the lead with a new California State record 2497-pound beautiful beanbag shaped beast! pic.twitter.com/hsKHGjKN1i— Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival (@HMBPumpkinFest) October 9, 2023
We also saw the largest pumpkin ever grown in California, as Nick Kennedy and Ron Root of Fair Oaks, CA entered a pumpkin that set the state record at 2,497 pounds. But even that “gourdzilla” wasn’t large enough to take that top prize.
Above are the Final Four entries in the contests, the four largest finalists. So how do these pumpkin farmers grow gourds that are so incredibly large?
“It’s about genetics, it’s crossing the seed stock to get them bigger year after year,” said Farmer Mike, the official pumpkin carver of the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. “And of course it’s the environment, watering at the right time, giving it the right seed information.” He added that farmers also use heavy nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium during the growing process.
You can watch the whole 51st Annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival Pumpkin Weigh-Off competition in the video above. Yes, it is more than five hours long. That’s because each enormous pumpkin has to be driven via forklift to the scale onstage. So there’s a little bit of a lag between each weighing, down time filled with marching band performances, live folk music, and kids telling adorable pumpkin-themed jokes.
But the full Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival is this weekend (October 14-15), where you can see these pumpkins, along with costume contests, pie eating contests, pumpkin carving art, and the Great Pumpkin parade at 12 noon on Saturday.
Image: hmbpumpkinfest via Instagram