Travis Gienger of Minnesota was crowned winner of Half Moon Bay’s 47th Annual Pumpkin Weigh-Off Monday for growing a 2,350-pound gourd that earned him $16,450 or $7 per pound in grand prize money.
Gienger’s massive pumpkin is the second heaviest weighed in the history of the event — only a 2017 submission weighing 2,363 pounds was bigger — and is also the heaviest one grown in all of North America this year.
“It feels awesome,” he said.
This was Gienger’s first time participating in the weigh-off and he drove 36 hours from Anoka, a suburb of Minnesota, to do it. He said he took every precaution to protect his prized gourd during the drive.
“We went to the extreme. We wrapped it in wet blankets, tarp over that, air tarp over that,” Gienger said. “We actually put it in dirt, then buckets of water. Every gas station we stopped at we watered it down.”
Gienger, who’s been growing pumpkins for the past 27 years, planted the seed that became this year’s winning pumpkin on April 11. He said the secret to getting the pumpkin so heavy was “lots of water and damn good soil,” noting he watered the gourd as often as eight to 10 times per day.
Gienger said his brother nicknamed the pumpkin “Tiger King” after the popular Netflix show.
Steve Daletas of Pleasant Hill, Oregon, came in second place with a 2,174-pound pumpkin and Jose Ceja of Napa earned third place with a 1,957-pound pumpkin. The top 20 pumpkins earned prizes.
This year’s weigh-off was held at Long Branch farms, located about 10 minutes from downtown Half Moon Bay where the event is typically held, because of the pandemic. Only growers and their families, event staff and media were allowed to attend, though the weigh-off as well as a parade featuring the top 10 gourds were livestreamed.
The Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival that accompanies the weigh-off was canceled this year.
While this year’s winner, Gienger’s pumpkin is still far from a U.S. record. That was set in 2018 when a New Hampshire pumpkin was weighed at more than 2,500 pounds.
The record for heaviest pumpkin in the world was set in 2016 at the Giant Pumpkin Championship in Ludwigsburg, Germany. A Belgium grower entered into the contest a 2,600-pound pumpkin.
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