This weekend, the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival hosted the 2022 Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. Pumpkin masters from around the country showed up with absolutely enormous gourds to complete for cash prizes at the “Super Bowl of weigh-offs.”
First place went to Travis Gienger of Anoka, Minnesota, whose behemoth of a pumpkin clocked in at 2,560 pounds. He got $23,040 ($9 per pound) for his achievements among dozens of other worthy competitors!
Steve Daletas of Pleasant Hill, Oregon took second place and $3K with a 2,424 lbs-pound gourd, and Ruben Frias of Napa took third and $2.5K with a 2,118 lbs-pound gourd. The top 10 pumpkins all weighed more than 600 pounds, and most growers came from the West Coast.
The legendary world championship event also promises a $30,000 mega-prize for anyone who can manage to break the world record, although no one at this year’s event managed to do so. The current world record was set just this past September by Stefano Cutrupi of Italy, who grew a pumpkin weighing 2,703 lbs.
What makes it so difficult to grow a giant prize-worthy pumpkin is timing it right for competition. In the spring, farmers plant massive seeds from their best Atlantic Giant pumpkins, and grow them in rich soil with plenty of compost, fertilizer, and water. At their best, giant pumpkins can grow up to 50 pounds a day! As soon as they’re cut, pumpkins can lose 6-8 pounds a day. All the more impressive for our first-place pumpkin, which came down to Half Moon Bay from Minnesota!
Half Moon Bay’s famous pumpkin weigh-off has been in the works since 1974, and pumpkin size has increased steadily in the decades since its inception. Before 2022, the largest pumpkin in the competition’s history was grown by Joel Holland of Sumner, WA in 2017, at 2,363 lbs, a record that Travis Gienger has smashed with his 2,560 behemoth gourd.
The Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival is back, and it’s a big one! This year is its 50th annual event, taking place on October 15-16, 2022 from 9am-5pm on historic Main Street in Half Moon Bay. Enjoy a day of picturesque coastal views, live music and dancing, masterful pumpkin carvers, harvest-inspired crafts, endless pumpkin pie and other festive food, and of course thousands of pumpkins including the newly crowned champion.
Featured image: Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival