2011 Half Moon Bay
World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off
It was the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat on this cool and drizzly day in Half Moon Bay as a potential world record breaker was disqualified just before the competition for having a hole. The unfortunate pumpkin unofficially weighed in at over 1,790 pounds and were it not for its disqualifying injury, could have dominated this year's competition and set a state record.
This early upset opened up the field to a pack of slightly smaller yet undoubtedly monsterous pumpkins each weighing more than a half a ton. Records were set and broken twice today on the way to crowning a winner.
At the end of the competition with just one more pumpkin to be weighed, it was a happy and anxious moment for long time competitor Leonardo Urena of Napa. He was happy that his monsterous pumpkin weighed in at 1,704 pounds, beating all others, but was unsure that it would be able to hold the title of the heaviest.
Anxiety became releif as the last pumpkin hit the scale just shy of Urena's and it sank in that Urena had won this prestigous competition. While the media swarmed to photograph and interview Urena, his estatic wife pushed through the crowd to congratulate him. The joy on her face caused Urena to shed some heartfelt tears.
Urena's first place finish earns him the top prize of $6 per pound, and for growing the heaviest pumpkin in California at the competition he recieves a special prize of $1,000 for a total of $11,224.
Brant Bordsen of Marysville, California was the bridesmaid again this year. Bordsen took second in last year's competition and his 1,693 lb pumpkin was just 11 tantalizing pounds shy of victory this year.
When weighed, Bordsen set a new California state record for the heaviest pumpkin ever grown in the state. He was the proud holder of this record for just 18 minutes. Hopefully the $2,000 prize for second place will ease the loss somewhat.
In his second year in the competition, Tim Mathison of Napa showed great improvement, capturing third place up from 12th place last year. Mathison said he had been growing pumpkins for five years and while he enjoys placing third his wife will appreciate the $1,500 in prize money.
Another Napa resident, John Hawkley, his first time competing but third year growing, took fourth place and $1,000 in prize money with his 1,548 lb gourd. Napa was good to growers this year with three of the top four spots belonging to Napa growers.
Rounding out the top five finishers, Ron Root of Citrus Heights, California, took the competition last year with a 1,535-pound pumpkin but pulled up short this year with just 1,521 pounds, bringing him into fifth place. His pumpkin showed an interesting coloration caused by a combination of genetics and a cooler than normal growing season.
Thad Starr of Pleasant Hill, Oregon, who won the competition in 2007 and 2008, came in sixth place with a respectable 1,487 pound pumpkin.
Two time winner, Steve Daletas, of Pleasant Hill, Oregon came in seventh place with a 1,292 pound pumpkin.
First time competitor Robert Globus snagged eighth place. His freshman pumpkin weighed in at 1,273 pounds.
Long time competitor, Jim Sherwood of Mulino, Oregon placed ninth at 1,220 pounds.
Another long time competitor and Bay Area grower, Jim Martin, of Hayward, California called tenth place his own with a 1,097 pound pumpkin.
Each of the competitors who placed fifth through tenth receive $500 in prize money.
It's interesting to note that any one of the the top five would have been heavy enough to take the competition as recently as just a couple of years ago and every single pumpkin in the top 10 weighed in at over 1,000 pounds. This is an amazing feat of pumpkin breeding.
Former mayor of Half Moon Bay, John "Farmer John" Muller of Half Moon Bay, California, was awarded a special prize of $500 for growing a 755 pound pumpkin, the largest grown on the coastside this year. You can see his winning pumpkin at the Farmer John Pumpkin Patch in Half Moon Bay.
This year, Vince Zunino's pumpkin named "Marmalade Girl", Eric Carlson's "Eve", Paul Reese's unnamed pumpkin, and Art Martinez's "Tangerine" competed for the title of Most Beautiful Pumpkin. The crowd was evenly split between those voting for Tangerine and those who preferred Eve. Officials eventually declared "Eve" grown by Carlson of Portola Valley, California, to be the Most Beautiful Pumpkin. Carlson teasingly attributed the attractiveness of his pumpkin to good seed and lots of food coloring. For his win Carlson took home a prize of $500.
Congratulations must once again 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.
The five largest pumpkins can be seen at the upcoming 2011 Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival on October 15 and 16, 9 am - 5 pm. Leonardo Urena's winning pumpkin will ride a specially constructed float during the opening parade and then will be put on display with the four runners-up for people to have their pictures taken with.