Record-breaking Giant Pumpkin

Every autumn in Half Moon Bay, California, the World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off is held. This year, Washington state resident Joel Holland won the Safeway-sponsored event with a 2,363-pound pumpkin. The award-winning pumpkin set a new American record for heaviest gourd, also setting the record as the second heaviest pumpkin ever grown in the world.

Competitors travel from near and far to participate in this contest, held in conjunction with the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival. The heaviest four pumpkins traveled from the states of Washington and Oregon to seek this year’s title. Washington state farmers prevailed by taking the top three spots. Other competitors were Californians from Half Moon Bay, Pescadero, and Aptos, among other towns. Last year's winner was Cindy Tobeck of Olympia, Washington. She earned the top prize with a 1,910-pound pumpkin but her pumpkin this year at 2,002 pounds could not defeat Holland and his pumpkin.

Making the trip to Half Moon Bay is a sensitive undertaking. Pumpkins begin losing moisture (and weight) the moment they are severed from their stems. The winner, Holland, wrapped his pumpkins in wet blankets and soaked the stems in water so they would retain as much moisture as possible before weighing time.

For the competition, pumpkins were so huge that they needed to be lifted by forklift to be placed on a scale on center stage. This year, nine pumpkins weighed 1,100 pounds or above. Although Art Martinez's pumpkin did not win the weight contest, popular votes awarded him with the Most Beautiful Pumpkin honor. The Fremont, Ca., resident took home $500 in award money.

This was Holland's seventh win at the annual competition; he has been competing in this contest since 1992. The former firefighter took home a grand total of $16,541, as the winner earned seven dollars per pound.

The top four overall pumpkins will be on display at the 44th annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival. Holland later plans to bring his gargantuan gourd back to Washington to be carved and displayed there.



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