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Joel Holland

Puyallup, WA

Joel Holland high-fives spectators

Joel Holland fielding questions from reporters

2005 Half Moon Bay
Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off

Joel Holland of Puyallup, Washington wins the 2005 Half Moon Bay Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off with his gargantuan 1,229 lb pumpkin !!

1,229 lbs!

A frigid morning gave way to a sunny and warm afternoon at the I.D.E.S. Grounds in Half Moon Bay for the 2005 Half Moon Bay Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off. There were 46 entries this year, down from 70 last year, from throughout California, Oregon, and Washington. While last year we saw no less than eight pumpkins breaking the golden 1,000 lb mark, this year only six managed the same feat. In the end, Deja Vu was the phrase of the day as Joel Holland of Puyallup, Washington went on to beat the competition for the second year in a row with a massive pumpkin weighing in at 1,229 lbs, the exact same weight of his previous winning pumpkin.

When it became apparent that Joel had won a joke spread through the crowd that Joel had frozen last year's pumpkin and brought it back to this year's competition. When the joke reached Joel as he was being interviewed by the throngs of reporters he smiled and laughed then stated wryly that even if such a thing were possible he wouldn't do it because there would be no fun in that. He went on to say that he would be trying hard next year to beat this apparent plateau and hopes to gain at least 100 pounds on his next pumpkin.  

Joel's pumpkin tied the Half Moon Bay record for the largest pumpkin entered into the competition, which he set last year. His pumpkin was 48 lbs heavier than second place finisher Leonardo Urena of Napa, California, whose pumpkin weighed 1,181 lbs and which organizers incorrectly guessed would be the heaviest based on its slightly larger circumference.

Joel Holland is no stranger to winning this prestigious competition. Joel previously won the 2004, 1993, and 1992 competitions and in 1994 tied for first place with Pete Glasier. In 2003, 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.

Leonardo Urea takes 2nd place with his 1,181 lb pumpkin

Joel wasn't the only winner at this year's weigh-off. Leonardo Urea of Napa, California finished second with a 1,181 lb pumpkin, earning a $2,000 prize for second place in the open division as well as $1,000 for growing the largest pumpkin in California. An extremely nice showing on its own and made even more so as this is only the second time Leonardo has entered a competition. Leonardo's first competition was the Elk Grove Pumpkin and Produce Competition where he took first place with a 1200.9 lb pumpkin. Long time competitior Jack Larue of Tenino, Washington came in third with his 1,141 pounder, earning $1,500.

Rounding out the top 10 were Pete Glasier of Napa, California (the 1994 winner) who took 4th place at 1,127 lbs; James Martin of Hayward, California in 5th with 1,059 lbs (nearly double his last year's entry); Virgil Brown of American Canyon, California in 6th with 1,003 lbs; Jim Sherwood of Mulino, Oregon in 7th at 961 lbs; Shellie Rivard of Rochester, Washington in 8th at 936 lbs; Neal Leland of Canby, Oregon in 9th with 926 lbs; and Dean Basquaert of Napa, California at 910 lbs.

Pumpkins raised high for "Most Beautiful Pumpkin" voting

John "Farmer John" Muller and his cube shaped pumpkin voted, "Most Beautiful Pumpkin"

This was the third year there was an audience voted "Most Beautiful Pumpkin" award and this year's competition was perhaps the most difficult to judge as the three pumpkins chosen to be in the final vote were all spectacular in their own ways. The three pumpkins belonged to John Muller, his wife Eda Muller, and Mike Pezzini. Because the voting was so close the organizers called for a second vote and after some deliberation it was awarded, by a narrow margin, to our favorite farmer, John "Farmer John" Muller, for his beautiful and very unique cube shaped pumpkin. While several farms in the Midwest and East have been experimenting with square pumpkins for years this marks the first time one has been entered in this competition. Along with the title comes a hefty $500 prize. John and Eda's pumpkins will be on display at Farmer John's Pumpkin Farm on Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay through Halloween.

Eda Muller, wife of John "Farmer John" Muller of Half Moon Bay, California wins big with a 655 lb pumpkin.

Eda Muller's pumpkin, while narrowly missing out on being chosen as the most beautiful to her husband John's pumpkin cube, beat him where it counts in this type of competition, weight. John's pumpkin weighed in at just 127 lbs while Eda's squashed him weighing in at 655 lbs, which made it heavy enough to earn the honor of being the heaviest pumpkin grown in both San Mateo County and the Coastside region, which runs from Montara down to Pescadero. The rivalry between John and Eda is only friendly though, as John was seen to shed a tear of joy as his wife's pumpkin was weighed and it became clear she had won.

Congratulations must be given to all of this year's entrants. There were many fine pumpkins and every single pumpkin was a worthy gardening and artistic achievement. 26,476 lbs of pumpkins were entered with an average weight of 576 lbs. Half were greater than 548 lbs. These are large pumpkins by any standard.

Joel Holland's winning pumpkin can be seen at the upcoming 2005 Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival on October 15 and 16, 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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