Annual World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off champ is 1,969 pounds

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. -- The annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off winner is a beautiful 1,969 gourd. The competition brings out big crowds in Half Moon bay but the growers have some mixed emotions during the big event.

These growers get very attached to their pumpkins, some even name them. While this is for the public, to them it's also very personal.

The tiny grower behind a huge, 199-pound pumpkin wasn't quite satisfied. "I was hoping for a little heavier but it was fine," grower Delfina Bianchi said.

That's the nature of the pumpkin weigh-off - bigger is better.

Even though it's fun to see all the smaller pumpkins brought in on a fork lift and carefully placed on the scale, these aren't the crowd pleasers.

They save those for last. Even though they're huge, their growers treat them like precious little treasures. "You put a mat underneath it so it doesn't touch the ground. You put a little tent over the top of it so no water gets to the pumpkin or on the pumpkin. It's just like a little baby, you're taking care of it," grower Gary Miller said.

They get attached to them. Miller says he gets emotional when he cuts the pumpkin from its stock. "I don't want most people to see me at this time because maybe there will be a tear coming down my face," he said.

There's also heartache. Defending champ John Hawkley got sick to his stomach when checking on his most promising pumpkin last month. "In September, I had one that was over 1,500 pounds that developed a little tiny crack that would make it illegal to enter," he said.

He brought another instead, not heavy enough to win but he's proud of it anyway. His audience will be thrilled no matter what.

"It's all about a sense of community and hanging out with people that we know. That's what it's about. Pumpkins are just a reason to get together," Half Moon Bay resident Leslie Martin said.

There's big money in this for the winner. The winner gets $6 a pound, so if the winner is at about 2,000 pounds, we're talking $12,000.

Others say they plan to possibly sell their pumpkins to storefronts or hotels in Vegas.

The champion pumpkin, along with the top five pumpkins overall, will be on display at the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival on October 17-18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, click here.
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