Safeway World Championship
This year is Half Moon Bay’s 44th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off.
World Record Mega-Prize
The Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off is offering a special $30,000 mega-prize for the world record breaking pumpkin at the prestigious Half Moon Bay event. To receive the $30,000 mega-prize, the grower must break and hold the world record at the conclusion of the Half Moon Bay weigh-off. If two or more growers happen to break the world record at Half Moon Bay, the prize money would go to the grower of the heaviest pumpkin. The current world record pumpkin is 2,624 pounds set on October 9, 2016 by Mathias Willemijns of Belgium at the Giant Pumpkin European Championship in Ludwigsburg, Germany. Here's how the $30,000 breaks down: the winner receives $7 per pound plus a $10,000 bonus mega prize for a new world record plus the difference to get to $30,000. So, a 2,000-pound pumpkin would net $14,000 (2,000 pounds x $7 per pound), plus $10,000 for a new world record, plus an additional $6,000 difference to get to the $30,000 threshold. See the 2016 Weigh-Off Results.
Top Prize Money
1st place prize money will be awarded in a “pay-by-the-pound” system with the champion receiving a hefty $7 per pound.
1st — $7 per pound
2nd — $2,000
3rd — $1,500
4th — $1,000
5th–10th — $500 each
11th–20th — $100 each
$1,000 for the biggest pumpkin from California
$500 for the biggest pumpkin from the Coastside (Montara to Pescadero)
$500 for the most beautiful pumpkin, judged by the audience (color, shape and size)
Half Moon Bay will serve as an officially sanctioned Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) site. The GPC is the major sanctioning body overseeing Giant Pumpkin growing competitions with more than seventy weigh-off locations throughout the world. “Our relationship with the GPC gives pumpkin growers added incentive to bring their biggest to Half Moon Bay and puts us in the mix for a potential world record,” said Cameron Palmer of the Half Moon Bay weigh-off. “Giant pumpkin growers bring extraordinary dedication and enthusiasm to their craft and we’re delighted to support and be part of their organization,” said Palmer.
- The first weigh-off was held in 1974 when officials from the City of Half Moon Bay including then-Mayor Melvin Mello challenged Circleville, Ohio, which then proclaimed itself “Pumpkin Capital of the World", to a weigh-off competition to determine the world's biggest pumpkin.
- John Minaidis of Half Moon Bay won the first weigh-off with a 132-pound pumpkin.
- Prize money for the Weigh-Off is underwritten by Safeway Food & Drug.
- Keys to growing giant pumpkins: superior seed lineage (from a previous giant), rich soil –– prepare using compost, treat with fertilizer (about every other day), profuse amounts of water (keep moist, not too dry or too soggy), mild (not extreme) temperatures (preferably around 90 daytime and 60 at night), long days with plenty of sunlight (but not direct sunlight), bury vine in the soil to promote rooting, and lots of time in the pumpkin patch “TLC" (most of the growers add to the lore with their own secrets).
- Every Columbus Day, about 60-80 accomplished, veteran growers from Washington, Oregon, California and points east gather for the Half Moon Bay weigh-off to swap seeds, secrets and tips, hoping to capture the coveted title and the cash and notoriety that go along with it.
- Seeds are planted in the spring (April for most growers). Seeds from a giant pumpkin are about the size of a peach pit.
- Giant pumpkins can gain as much as 50 pounds a day, on their best day.
- Once they're cut from the vine, big pumpkins lose an average weight of 6-8 pounds a day.
- Seed varietal used to grow giant pumpkins: Atlantic Giant
- The official weighing will be conducted by the San Mateo County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office of Weights and Measures, using a 5-ton capacity digital scale.
- Every fall, thousands of Bay Area residents visit the coastside to pick pumpkins from the rolling fields of orange along State Highways 1 and 92.
- About 3,500 tons of pumpkins are grown annually by about a dozen commercial growers in the Half Moon Bay area. They ship pumpkins all over the United States and sell to many of the large retailers in the Bay Area. As always, there is a bumper crop this year.
- The pumpkin boom can be traced back to growers in the area who began to plant pumpkins in the 1930's. In the early 30’s, teenager John Arata and his brother Clarence began planting pumpkin seeds to to feed the family’s hogs. One day, they were hauling some of their pumpkins along Highway One back to the farm when a passing motorist stopped and asked if he could buy a few. The Arata’s sold the pumpkins for a quarter and a booming pumpkin-picking business and tourist attraction was born.
- The current world record pumpkin is 2,624 pounds set on October 9, 2016 by Mathias Willemijns of Belgium at the Giant Pumpkin European Championship in Ludwigsburg, Germany.
Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off Past Champions
|2016 — Cindy Tobek, Little Rock WA||1,910 lbs.|
|2015 — Steve Daletas, Pleasant Hill OR||1,969 lbs.|
|2014 — John Hawkley, Napa CA||2,058 lbs.|
|2013 — Gary Miller, Napa CA||1,985 lbs.|
|2012 — Thad Starr, Pleasant Hill OR||1,775 lbs.|
|2011 — Leonardo Urena, Napa CA||1,704 lbs.|
|2010 — Ron Root, Citrus Heights CA||1,535 lbs.|
|2009 — Don Young, Des Moines IA||1,658 lbs.|
|2008 — Thad Starr, Pleasant Hill OR||1,528 lbs.|
|2007 — Thad Starr, Pleasant Hill OR||1,524 lbs.|
|2006 — Joel Holland, Puyallup WA||1,223 lbs.|
|2005 — Joel Holland, Puyallup WA||1,229 lbs.|
|2004 — Joel Holland, Puyallup WA||1,229 lbs.|
|2003 — Steve Daletas, Pleasant Hill OR||1,180 lbs.|
|2002 — Kirk Mombert, Harrisburg OR||1,173 lbs.|
|2001 — Steve Daletas, Pleasant Hill OR||1,016 lbs.|
|2000 — Kirk Mombert, Harrisburg OR||940 lbs.|
|1999 — Jon Hunt, Elk Grove CA||991 lbs.|
|1998 — Lincoln Mettler, Eatonville WA||974 lbs.|
|1997 — Sherry LaRue, Tenino WA||868 lbs.|
|1996 — Kirk Mombert, Harrisburg, OR||808 lbs.|
|1995 — Jack La Rue, Tenino WA||875 lbs.|
|1994 — (tie) Joel Holland, Puyallup WA and Pete Glasier, Sequim WA||696 lbs.|
|1993 — Joel Holland, Puyallup WA||740 lbs.|
|1992 — Joel Holland, Puyallup WA||722 lbs.|
|1991 — Cindi Glasier, Denver CO||602 lbs|
|1990 — Tom Borchard, Salinas CA||544 lbs.|
|1989 — Mike Pezzini, Prunedale CA||530 lbs.|
|1988 — Tom Borchard, Salinas CA||432 lbs.|
|1987 — Tom Borchard, Salinas CA||429 lbs.|
|1986 — Arthur Quint, Castro Valley CA||526 lbs.|
|1985 — Arthur Quint, Castro Valley CA||438 lbs.|
|1984 — Norm Gallagher, Cheland WA||612 lbs.|
|1983 — Tom Borchard, Salinas CA||408 lbs.|
|1982 — Tom Borchard, Salinas CA||307 lbs.|
|1981 — Francis Collings, Petaluma CA||337 lbs.|
|1980 — Tom Borchard, Salinas CA||275 lbs.|
|1979 — Francis Collings, Petaluma VA||349 lbs.|
|1978 — Francis Collings, Petaluma CA||298 lbs.|
|1977 — Ray Chiesa, Half Moon Bay CA||200 lbs.|
|1976 — John Minaidis, Half Moon Bay CA||208 lbs.|
|1975 — John Minaidis, Half Moon Bay CA||273 lbs.|
|1974 — John Minaidis, Half Moon Bay CA||132 lbs.|