Half Moon Bay pumpkin contest declares 2, 191-pound gourd as winner

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The yearly Super Bowl of huge gourds gathered pumpkin fans and local supporters on Monday in Half Moon Bay.

For two years, the signature Pumpkin Festival which gathered over 250, 000 people in the past, was called off because of the pandemic. In September, the City Council voted to allow the event, saying that it can encourage crowding especially with the threat of the delta variant.

The 48th annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off this year was meanwhile allowed to gather spectators for the competition and live music. Several hopefuls came to the venue, some even from as far as Washington, to vie for the world’s biggest pumpkin with a $9 per pound prize.

Only one winner can stand out amid the tough competition. This year, Jeff Uhlmeyer of Olympia, Wash. was declared champion with a giant weighing in at 2, 191 pounds, and with a prize at $19,719.

The second spot was earned by Leonardo Urena from Napa with a gourd weighing 2,007. Urena set the state record in 2019 when he was declared champion with a 2,175-pound entry.

Brave efforts surrounded the event, like Napa’s John Hawkley’s entry which tilted the scale at 1,857 pounds.

Another resident from Olympia, Cindy Tobeck, appeared to be surfing using her pumpkin weighing 1,738. A school teacher, who won the 2016 competition, is exceptional in terms of growing vegetables of substance. Tobeck claims to have set a fresh record for nurturing the most huge marrow zucchini, and a tomato weighing 7.19 pounds. “It was bigger than a newborn baby!” she said.

A pumpkin is transported to the scale to be weighed as people watch during the 48th Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off on Monday, October 11, 2021, in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Meanwhile, 96-year-old Mayor Al Adreveno delivered a speech, sharing how the town was established to become the “pumpkin capital of the world.”

He shared that he met Circleville, Ohio mayor in the 1970s, who said that their town is the world’s pumpkin capital. The two competed for the title through a weigh-off outside City Hall in 1974. He said Half Moon emerged the winner by 1 pound, San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“A lot has changed in pumpkins since the first pumpkin weigh-off here in Half Moon Bay,” Adreveno said.