Many Coastsiders have long believed that Half Moon Bay’s famous Art and Pumpkin Festival consistently hosts the world’s heaviest pumpkins. Now there is proof.
Earlier this year, Half Moon Bay’s annual pumpkin weigh-off was named as the first-ever recipient of the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth’s “World’s Top Weigh-Off Site” award. Based on 25 years of data from 114 registered sites, the commonwealth calculated the average weight from the Coastside’s top 10 weighed pumpkins to be 2,041.4 pounds.
That’s the heaviest in the world. The Ohio Valley (2,028.2) and Stillwater, Minn. (2,016.8), were second and third, respectively.
Though the Coastside may have the collection of heaviest pumpkins, it does not hold the current world record for largest single gourd.
The 46th annual World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off will look to change that this year. Growers will weigh their pumpkins from 7 to 11 a.m. on Monday, in front of the I.D.E.S. Hall on Main Street in Half Moon Bay.
Dubbed “The Super Bowl of Weigh-Offs,” this year’s competition is offering a large payout. Sponsors are offering a $30,000 prize purse to the winner if that pumpkin breaks the current world record of 2,624 pounds, set on Oct. 9, 2016, by Mathias Willemijns, of Belgium, at the Giant Pumpkin European Championship in Ludwigsburg, Germany.
There are also several smaller prizes available, including $1,000 for the largest pumpkin in California, on the Coastside, and the most beautiful.
John Muller, of Daylight Farms in Half Moon Bay, has competed in both the pumpkin weigh-off and beauty contest. He said most farmers tend to keep the weight of their largest pumpkins under wraps for as long as possible. Giant pumpkin seeds are generally planted in April, and have been recorded at growing up to 50 pounds a day in extreme cases. They need a combination of factors including location, skill, weather and luck for a record pumpkin to be grown.
Defending champion Steve Daletas’ pumpkin weighed in at 2,170 pounds last year. Pumpkins are placed on a 5-ton capacity digital scale with officials from the San Mateo County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office of Weights, Sealers and Measures on hand to certify results.
“There’s some big ones coming from Sonoma and Washington state, as I understand it, and we’ll know more about them later,” Muller said.