2005 Half Moon Bay
Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off
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.
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.
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
John's Pumpkin Farm on Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay through Halloween.
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
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.