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Joel Holland

Puyallup, WA

Joel Holland high-fives spectators

Joel Holland fielding questions from reporters


2004 Half Moon Bay
Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off

Joel Holland of Sumner Washington wins the 2004 Half Moon Bay Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off with his gargantuan 1,229 lb pumpkin !!

1,229 lbs!

As the day began to heat up so did the competition at the 2004 Half Moon Bay Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off. There were 70 entries this year, up from 58 last year, from throughout California, Oregon, and Washington. No less than eight pumpkins broke the golden 1,000 lb mark this year but there can be only one top pumpkin and that pumpkin belonged to Joel Holland.

Joel Holland of Puyallup, Washington crushed the competition and set a new Half Moon Bay record for the largest pumpkin at the competition with a gargantuan 1,229 lb gourd. His pumpkin was 49 lbs heavier than last year's winner, Steve Daletas of Pleasant Hill, Oregon and 69 lbs heavier than this year's second place finisher Jack LaRue, whose pumpkin weighed 1,160 lbs.

Upon winning, Joel couldn't keep his joy a secret. After the weight was announced he immediately threw both arms up in victory as throngs of reporters and photographers moved in to capture the moment. But nearly as soon as they had, Joel took off for a victory lap around the competition, giving hi-fives to all those who had come to see who would be crowned the king of pumpkin growers.

Joel Holland is no stranger to winning this prestigious competition. Joel previously won both the 1992 and 1993 competitions and in 1994 tied for first place with Pete Glasier. Last year Joel came in second with a 1,134 lb pumpkin that could have easily won many other giant pumpkin competitions, proving yet again how stiff the competition is here in Half Moon Bay.

For his win Joel Holland will receive a grand prize of $5 per pound, that's over $6,000 in prize money, not to mention the value of bragging rights in this most competitive of pastimes. Joel's pumpkin will also be on display at this weekend's Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival.  

Joel wasn't the only winner at this year's weigh-off. Jack LaRue of Tenino, Washington finished second with a 1,160 lb pumpkin, earning an open division prize of $2,000. Jim Sherwood of Mulino, Oregon came in third with his 1,139 pounder, earning $1,500.

Brett Hester of Canby, Oregon laughs it up after calling his pumpkin's weight correctly

Perhaps the humorous highlight of this year's competition was when Brett Hester of Canby Oregon arrived to have his pumpkin weighed. His pumpkin looked truly massive. The ropes that tethered it strained under the heavy load as the forklift brought it to the scale. The announcer asked Brett how much he thought his pumpkin weighed. Brett answered jokingly, "One pound more than Steve's", referring to his long time competitor and fellow Oregonian Steve Daletas, who recently bested Brett at the Canby Oregon Weigh-Off by 13 lbs. Brett nearly fell on the ground laughing when his pumpkin was weighed and indeed, at 1,124 lbs, it was exactly one pound heavier than Steve's, pushing Brett into fourth place and Steve into fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Ray Barenchi of Santa Rosa who took 6th place and who also had the heaviest pumpkin grown in California at 1,027 lbs; Kirk Mombert of Harrisburg Oregon in 7th with 1,025 lbs; Gary Miller's "The Maestro", in 8th, a personal best at 1,005 lbs; Shellie Cramer of Rochester Washington in 9th at 959 lbs; and Rock Rivard of Rochester Washington in 10th at 931 lbs.

7 year old Olivia Zunino of Los Altos Hills with her audience voted, "Most Beautiful Pumpkin"

This was the second year there was an audience voted "Most Beautiful Pumpkin" award. It was awarded, by a vast majority, to newcomer, 7 year old Olivia Zunino of Los Altos Hills. She named her magnificently brilliant orange pumpkin "Bubbles" and it weighed a very respectable 487 lbs. Along with the title comes a hefty $500 prize.

Shellie Cramer of Rochester, Washington won a special award for the heaviest pumpkin from a San Mateo County Farm Bureau member with her 959 lb pumpkin.

Eda Muller, wife of John "Farmer John" Muller of Half Moon Bay, California wins big with a 612 lb pumpkin.

A very special Haunted Bay congratulations goes out to our favorite farm family, the Muller's of Half Moon Bay, who run Farmer John's Pumpkin Farm on Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay. Eda Muller scored big with a beautiful 612 lb pumpkin, which took the prize for being the largest grown in San Mateo County as well as the largest grown on the Coastside region (which runs from Montara to Pescadero). The Muller's will have their pumpkin on display at Farmer John's Pumpkin Farm through Halloween.

Congratulations must be given to all of this year's entrants. There were many fine pumpkins and every single pumpkin was a worthy gardening achievement. 37,284 lbs of pumpkins were entered with an average weight of 533 lbs. Half were greater than 500 lbs. These are large pumpkins by any standard. Perhaps owing to the additional prize for appearance, I must also say that this was the most attractive competition run to date.

Joel Holland's winning pumpkin can be seen at the upcoming 2004 Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival on October 16 and 17, 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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