It was a whopper, that’s for sure. Thad Starr, of Pleasant Hill, Oregon, took home top honors at the 34th annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off October 8. This year’s contest, part of the Half Moon Bay (California) Art & Pumpkin Festival, saw 70 growers vie for the title. Ten pumpkins entered topped the scale at more than 1,000 pounds. Starr’s winning gourd weighed in at 1,524 pounds, beating out six-time champ Joel Holland, of Puyallup, Washington, by 140 pounds. Holland has won the contest the last three years.
Starr, 40, also pocketed $9,144 for his efforts. The festival was October 13-14.
Starr has been growing pumpkins for only two years as a means of competing with his brother Mike.
“He was always better than me, but I wasn’t going to let him be better than me at growing pumpkins,” says the stay-at-home dad.
The Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival saw a few records break as the huge gourds weighed in.
The previous festival record was 1,229 pounds – the top four entries for this year broke that record. Last year’s champion, Joel Holland, won with a 1,223-pounder. John Muller, of Half Moon Bay, broke the San Mateo County record – and took home that prize and the Biggest Coastside Pumpkin award – with a fruit weighing in at 814 pounds.
The most beautiful pumpkin award was presented to Eric Carlson, of Portola Valley, California, for his 224-pound, vibrant orange gourd. Students at Huff Elementary School in Mountain View, California, entered their school garden’s 319-pound pumpkin.
The festival has included the weigh-off since 1974, when Half Moon Bay officials challenged Circleville, Ohio, to a weigh-off competition. At the time, Circleville claimed the title of Pumpkin Capital of the World. Half Moon Bay now calls itself the World Pumpkin Capital. The 1974 competition produced a winning 131-pound pumpkin.
The scales started to tip above the 1,000-pound mark in 2001.
Other categories for the weigh-off are Biggest from State of California, Biggest from the Coastside, and Biggest from a San Mateo County Farm Bureau Member.
For more information on the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, and the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off, visit the Web site at www.MiramarEvents.com/pumpkinfest.