Half Moon Bay Farmers Search for the Great Pumpkin

Annual competition pits pumpkin growers against each other

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Bay Area pumpkin growers will compete Monday morning for thousands of dollars in prizes at the 38th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay.

Growers will start weighing their massive pumpkins at 7 a.m. at the I.D.E.S. Grounds at 735 Main St., and one lucky grower could take home a $5,000 mega-prize if they can manage to break the world record for biggest pumpkin.

The world record stands at 1,810.5 pounds, set by Chris Stevens of New Richmond, Wis. At last year's Half Moon Bay event, the winning pumpkin from Ron Root of Citrus Heights came up short at 1,535 pounds.

But this year organizers believe based on height and circumference that Santa Rosa grower Russ Pugh's pumpkin may stand a chance of taking home the mega-prize.

Even if the pumpkin isn't record-breaking, the winner of the event will not go home empty-handed. The biggest pumpkin will fetch a prize of $6 per pound -- possibly over $10,000 -- and prizes will be awarded for second through 10th place.

There will even be a $500 prize for most beautiful pumpkin, judged by the audience based on color, shape and size.

The pumpkin weigh-off is just the beginning of the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival this weekend on Oct. 15 and 16.

The enormous pumpkins will be back for that event, along with three stages of entertainment, a Great Pumpkin Parade, a haunted house, and pumpkin carver Farmer Mike sculpting a pumpkin that weighs over 1,200 pounds.

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