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Winner
Steve Daletas

Pleasant Hill, OR

Steve Daletas, family, and winning 1,180 lb pumpkin

Steve Daletas fielding questions from reporters

Steve Daletas gets a hug after winning

Steve Daletas and winning 1,180 lb pumpkin

Winning the Half Moon Bay Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off is big news!

 

2003 Half Moon Bay
Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off

Steve Daletas wins the 2003 Half Moon Bay Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off with a monster 1,180 lb pumpkin.

1,180 lbs!

Just a year after being unseated by Kirk Mombert, Steve Daletas of Pleasant Hill, Oregon has once again grown the largest pumpkin for a win at the Half Moon Bay Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off, with a whopping 1,180 pound monster Atlantic Giant. Steve's entry sets a new Half Moon Bay record for the largest pumpkin ever in that competition, besting the previous record held by Kirk Mombert by seven pounds.

It's not the biggest pumpkin Steve's ever grown though. On October 7th, Steve captured both a first place and the world's record for the heaviest pumpkin with a 1,385 lb pumpkin at the Canby Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Oregon.

This year's Half Moon Bay competition featured 58 entries (up from 51 last year) with a grand total of 29,150 pounds of pumpkin with an average weight of 503 pounds. Amazingly there were six pumpkins with weights over the golden 1,000 lb mark. This is up two from last year's four entries over 1,000 lbs. For years growers dreamed of breaking the 1,000 lb barrier. It is now virtually required if you want to be competitive at competitions.

Most growers have a secret compost or fertilizer they swear by to produce these gargantuan pumpkins, but Steve assures us this isn't the case with him. The key to growing a prize winning pumpkin is "just good soil and plenty of water." He admitted to the crowd of reporters after the competition that he rarely fertilizes but he'll spend all day from sunrise to sunset out in the patch weeding and pollinating.

Competition organizers try to weigh the pumpkins in order of what they expect the weights will be. Proving that it's more difficult to judge a pumpkin's weight by its measurements than the judges would like, for the second time in as many years, the heaviest pumpkin has not been the one with the best height and circumference. This lead to a slightly anti-climactic moment at the end of the competition when the last pumpkin weighed came in 46 pounds shy of the leader that was weighed just prior. While competition officials are pretty good at roughly estimating the winner based on the dimensions, their job is made difficult because pumpkin genetics cause some to grow thicker flesh than others and pumpkins can lose six pounds or more per day once they have been cut from the vine due to evaporation.

While this evaporation would normally leave distant competitors at a disadvantage most growers cover their pumpkin with blankets and attach water filled bags or bottles to the stems of their pumpkins so that any water lost to evaporation can be reintroduced through the stem. Shellie Cramer from Rochester, Washington, who came in 3rd place with a 1,107 pound Atlantic Giant, bagged her pumpkin with a mixture of water and orange Gatorade. Shellie had always wondered if the pumpkin actually took up water from this procedure and said she was amazed to watch an orange streak come up through the stem as the pumpkin absorbed fluid from the sweet concoction.

Compared to previous years, the weather was quite good for this year's competition. Not too cold and the sun came out early. This seems to have lifted the spirits of the competitors and audience and caused jokes to fly. When Victor Fredrick from Woodside, who entered a 286 pounder was asked, "What else do they raise in Woodside besides pumpkins?" Victor quickly and effortlessly quipped, "Idiots!".

New this year, the spectators voted for the "Most Beautiful Pumpkin" in the competition. Paul Rys of San Luis Obispo won the competition easily with a shiny and brilliant orange 514 pounder. Paul has been doing genetic experiments to bring beauty to the large pumpkins that have traditionally been lacking in the deep orange color so common in smaller varieties.  We hope his $500 prize will help him with his experiments so that others can have giant pumpkins as attractive as his.

Congratulations must be given to all of this year's entrants. There were many fine pumpkins. James Martin of Hayward won for the heaviest pumpkin grown in California with a 1,064 lb pumpkin. This gave him a tie for fourth place overall with Jim Sherwood of Mulino, Oregon, who's pumpkin also weighed 1,064 lbs. In third place overall was Shellie Cramer of Rochester, Washington with a huge 1,107 lb Atlantic Giant. Shellie should have also gotten a happiest just to be there award. Rarely have we seen somebody so genuinely happy. Shellie was all smiles as her pumpkin hit the scales and broke the 1,000 lb barrier. Joel Holland of Sumner, Washington landed second place with his 1,134 pounder.

With so many out of state winners it was nice to see some locals showing in the competition. Winning for the heaviest pumpkin in San Mateo County and Coastside was Jerome Valladao of Half Moon Bay with a 536 lb pumpkin. Coming in second and third respectively, John "Farmer John" Muller (517 lbs) and his wife Eda Muller (485 lbs).

Special congratulations go out to Steve Daletas for both his win here in Half Moon Bay and for his tremendous win in Oregon. We just hope next year he'll break a world record in Half Moon Bay. After all, it IS The Pumpkin Capital of the World!

Steve's pumpkin can be seen at the upcoming Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival where it will ride a specially constructed float and be put on display for people to have their pictures taken with.

 
   

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