2012 Half Moon Bay
World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off
On September 28, 2012, Ron Wallace of Greene, Rhode Island broke the one ton barrier at the Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, MA with his incredible 2,009 lb pumpkin, setting a new world record. Many hoped that a competitor in today's Half Moon Bay Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off would weigh-in even heavier and snatch the world record away but this was not to be.
However, a record was set at today's event when Thad Starr of Pleasant Hill, OR bested all other growers with a 1,775 lb pumpkin that beat last year's winner by 71 lbs to be the heaviest ever weighed at the Half Moon Bay competition. Starr, who came in 6th place last year, won both the 2007 and 2008 weigh-offs and beat his previous winning entry by 178 lbs.
Starr's daughter and growing partner, Danica, was instrumental in the win, having selected the seed for this year's effort. When asked what their plans are after winning the competition, Danica enthusiastically said they were all headed to Disneyland! They should be able to afford it now. As the heaviest, Starr's pumpkin is worth $6 per pound for a total prize of $10,650.
Steve Daletas of Pleasant Hill, OR, who also previously won the competition twice, came in a distant second with a 1,521 lb pumpkin after Richard Westervelt of Granite Bay, CA had his 1,621 lb pumpkin disqualified by judges after an extremely small hole was found at the blossom end of his pumpkin.
John Hawkley of Napa, CA, a 15 year competitor in the Half Moon Bay competition, came in third with a respectable 1,480 lb pumpkin. This proved to be the heaviest pumpkin grown in California in this competition. Hawkley's pumpkin was deceptively heavy, just what growers strive for and what makes organizing a weigh-off difficult. A good guess as to weight can usually be made by measuring the girth of the pumpkin. Those pumpkins expected to be heavy are then weighed later in the competition. Hawkley's pumpkin looked smaller than the competition and was weighed almost two hours earlier than its actual weight would have dictated. Weighing early is usually a sure sign of not winning a prize. Hawkley was pleasantly surprised at the final outcome.
Russ Pugh of Santa Rosa, CA and Robert Globus of Walnut Grove, CA came within a pumpkin stem of each other with their 1,446 lb and 1,442 lb pumpkins, giving them fourth and fifth places, respectively. This year was Pugh's 9th year at the competition while Globus has only been growing three years and this is only the second time he's competed.
Another relative newcomer, Tim Mathison of Napa, CA, also has been growing for just three years. Mathison's 1,439 lb pumpkin, while smaller than last year by over 100 lbs, was able to handily claim sixth place.
2010 winner Ron Root of Citrus Heights, CA informed us that he was holding back his big pumpkin for another competition so he brought his "little" 1,415 pounder to Half Moon Bay. While a pumpkin this size would have easily won just a few years ago, improvements in genetics and growing knowledge improved the competition and left Root with seventh place.
The third Napa resident in the top 10, Gary Miller came in eighth with his 1,284 lb pumpkin, 273 lbs heavier than his entry last year. The numerous Napa growers in the top 10 is testament to what fine growing conditions and, of course, skill they have in the North Bay.
Ninth place belonged to Jim Sherwood of Mulino, OR and his 1,277 lb pumpkin. We think Sherwood is quite at home in this position as he was also ninth place in last year's competition. On growing giant pumpkins or any other type of giant produce Sherwood recommended xtreme-gardening.com.
Finally, Russ Pingrey of Santa Rosa, CA rounded out the top 10 with a fine 1,203 lb pumpkin. This is Pingrey's second time at the competition. Last year, his first, he took second place with a 1,548 lb giant.
Competition was stiff for this year's Most Beautiful Pumpkin award. Overall, this was the most attractive crop of pumpkins we've seen at a competition. There were so many attractive pumpkins that a pre-judging was held to narrow the field to four for the public vote. The overwhelming crowd favorite and 2012 Most Beautiful pumpkin belonged to Eric Carlson of Portola Valley, CA. Carlson told us that you need to grow pumpkins with red tendencies to get the orange color, something those growing for weight don't like to do because the walls are thinner.
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 2012 Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival on October 13 and 14, 9 am - 5 pm. Thad Starr'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.