It's the Super Bowl of pumpkin weigh-offs again in Half Moon Bay, and on Monday, about three dozen growers hoped to break a world record of pumpkin heft and win a $25,000 prize. Bob Redell reports.
An Oregon man won the annual Half Moon Bay pumpkin weigh-off Monday, the third time he's taken first, though he fell short of breaking a world record and winning a $25,000 prize.
Thad Starr came in first place at the 39th annual "Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off" after his Atlantic Giant clocked in at 1,775 pounds, which beat his personal best of 1,610 pounds. He won $10,650 - $6 a pound for the winning pumpkin.
But that heft was still shy of what he needed to win to break a world record.
In Massachusetts two weeks ago, Ron Wallace of Rhode Island grew a pumpkin to 2,009 pounds, which won at the Topsfield Fair and was the largest known pumpkin grown in the world.
This year, for the first time, anyone who grew a pumpkin weighing at least a ton at the Half Moon Bay weigh-off contest, would have won $25,000. No one topped that weight this year.
"I'm a little disappointed," Starr said. His pumpkin seed was a "cousin" to the world-breaking pumpkin grown by Wallace.
Starr's ginormous pumpkin also wasn't as big as the current Half Moon Bay record holder, according to organizers. That was set last October by Jim and Kelsey Bryson of Ontario, Canada, whose pumpkin clocked in at 1,818.5 pounds.
And that's not to downplay defending champion Leonardo Urena of Napa, who obliterated the competition at last year's Half Moon Bay weigh-off with his 1,704-pound Atlantic Giant that set a new California state record.
Urena returned this year along with a host of accomplished, veteran growers to contend for the big prize.
Starr is a veteran of the Half Moon Bay weigh-off, having won in 2007 and 2008. Unlike other competitors, Starr grows his pumpkins in a greenhouse.
The festival, now in its 42nd year, will be held on Main Street in Half Moon Bay from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 and 14.