Tasi Paulovits checks in on the giant pumpkin

Tasi Paulovits checks in on the giant pumpkin growing in his backyard. Adam Pardee / Review

 

The (usually) annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival might be off this year, but that won’t stop the time-honored World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off, scheduled for Monday at the I.D.E.S. grounds on Main Street.

In its 48th year, the competition has increased its prize to $9 per pound for the 2021 champion and offers a $30,000 award to anyone who breaks the current world record for largest pumpkin.

The competition, open to the public, is set to begin at 7 a.m. and will also be streamed live on Facebook. Officials from the San Mateo County Department of Agriculture Office of Weights and Measures and the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth will oversee the weigh-ins with an official 5-ton digital scale.

Other $1,000 prizes will be awarded to the grower of the most beautiful pumpkin and the biggest California and Coastside pumpkins.

Last year’s champion, Travis Gienger, defeated the competition with a 2,350-pound winning pumpkin that was also named the heaviest pumpkin in North America in 2020.

The weigh-off will go on again this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which has canceled the traditional pumpkin festival for the last two years. Last year’s weigh-off was moved to Long Branch Farms on Verde Road, and was open only to participants and media.

Organizer Tim Beeman wrote in a press release that this year’s event will adhere to all local safety restrictions. The California Department of Public Health recommends requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for any outdoor event with more than 10,000 attendees. It’s not clear how many will be in attendance on Monday, but traditionally, the event draws fewer than 10,000. Organizers are not planning to ask for vaccination or testing proof. Face coverings continue to be optional outdoors.

This year will also be the last with Beeman as organizer after he posted on LinkedIn that Miramar Events, the group that typically organizes the weigh-off, pumpkin festival and the springtime Pacific Coast Dream Machines, will be shutting down. Beeman wrote in an email to the Review that the individual governing boards of each event will decide on next steps for those events.

“Couldn’t have imagined this coming down the road in March of 2020, but here we are, and the time has come for Miramar Events to ride off into the sunset after this year’s pumpkin weigh-off to cap off what has been an amazing, meaningful and fun-as-hell 34-year run doing impactful events; the honor and privilege of a lifetime,” Bee wrote.

Sarah Wright is the deputy editor for the Review. She reports on unincorporated San Mateo County and local schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and has worked in policy and communications in Washington, D.C.

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