Pumpkin Weigh-Off rewards giant gourds


Image courtesy Igor Porton Pumpkin contest

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — When you were a kid, did you ever try your hand at growing your own jack-o’-lantern? If you were especially lucky and talented, you might have grown a pumpkin large enough to carve and put on the front porch.

The folks in this contest could give you a tip or two. The World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off, in Half Moon Bay, is where the best in the world come to put their pumpkins into the “Super Bowl of weigh-offs” and see who comes away with the highest number.

Linus may have sat in the pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive, but all the really needed to do was head for Half Moon Bay.

This year’s prize pool is enough to get anyone planting. The winner gets $9/pound, plus a bonus to bring the total prize to $30,000 if the winning pumpkin breaks and holds the world record. The current record is 2,703 pounds set by Stefano Cutrupi in Italy. Last year’s champion, Travis Gienger, won with a 2,350-lb. mega-gourd, so he and the other competitors will need to step up their games a bit to take the record.

There are other prizes to be won, including one for the biggest carrot and a special $1,000 prize for the most beautiful pumpkin.

The rules are tight, if somewhat pumpkin-specific. Entries must be at least 75% yellow/orange in color lest they be classified as gourds, and pumpkins that have won prizes in other contests are not eligible. Each grower is limited to one entry, and of course decisions of the judges are final.

These pumpkins aren’t carried in, of course. They come in on specially reinforced trucks with delicate suspensions, and are very carefully moved by forklifts and cranes to the scale. Let’s just say you don’t want to see the mess if a pumpkin that weighs more than a ton gets dropped.

Growing the world-record pumpkin has benefits beyond the prize money. Seeds from a record or even just a contest-winning pumpkin can fetch a prime price on the seed market. Much the same way that the puppies from a champion poodle will sell for more than ones from an ordinary backyard pup, seeds from a gigantic pumpkin are seen as having a greater chance of yielding a similar result.

Now, how many pies could you make from a 2,700-lb pumpkin?

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