Great Pumpkin Weigh-off set Oct. 12 in Half Moon Bay |

Great Pumpkin Weigh-off set Oct. 12 in Half Moon Bay

Pictured is 2014 Weigh-off Champion John Hawkley. This year's Weigh-off is Oct. 12.
Submitted Photo |

HALF MOON BAY — Will this be the year the world pumpkin heavyweight record is squashed in Half Moon Bay? Will the drought in California have an effect on the outcome?

The intrigue is building as Gourd Growing Greats and their astounding, mind-boggling, Volkswagen-sized orange orbs gather on Sunday morning for the 42nd Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off — in the World Pumpkin Capital of Half Moon Bay — the kick-off to Half Moon Bay’s world-famous Art & Pumpkin Festival which takes place Oct. 17-18.

Organizers are offering a $30,000 mega-prize for a new world record pumpkin entered at Half Moon Bay — considered the “Super Bowl of Weigh-Offs.”

A host of accomplished, grizzled veteran growers will be contending for the coveted title, the $30,000 world record prize and thousands of dollars in additional prize money. In a unique pay-by-the-pound system, the winner is guaranteed to take home a hefty $6 per pound for the champion mega-pumpkin plus a starring role in the world-famous Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, Oct. 17-18 (including a free weekend at the posh, pumpkin-centric Ritz-Carlton on the stunningly beautiful Half Moon Bay coast).

To receive the $30,000 world record 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 2,323-pounds, grown by Swiss grower Beni Meier and set at a weigh-off in Germany in 2014.

Organizers say there’s no question the drought will have an impact. Water plays a big role in growing giant pumpkins and water restrictions vary widely. Weigh-off officials say it all depends on location.

“It really depends on where you live and grow and what the water restrictions are,” said Tim Beeman, weigh-off spokesman. “We’re expecting some big ones from the Napa area and Pacific Northwest again but probably fewer entries overall,” he said.

Superstar grower John Hawkley’s Goliath-like 2,058-pound weigh-off champion mega-gourd set a new North American record and obliterated a formidable field of heavyweight contenders in winning the 2014 Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. Hawkley is expected to return to defend his title and contend for the $30,000 world record prize.

Beauty will share center stage with beefy brawn — a special $500 prize will be awarded to the “most beautiful pumpkin” as judged by the audience based on color, shape and size.

On weigh-off reckoning day, the streets around Half Moon Bay will be lined with sagging, overloaded trucks crammed with burly orange behemoths quietly awaiting their place of destiny in the worldwide media spotlight or the Libby’s canning factory, their massive roots firmly planted in buckets of water to prevent weight loss as fans ooh and aah at their sheer, stunning enormity.

Using forklifts and harnesses, the monster gourds will be carefully placed on a 5-ton capacity digital scale under the watchful eye of officials from the San Mateo County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office of Weights, Sealers, and Measures.

The official weighing will take place from 7 to 11 a.m. on the I.D.E.S. Grounds, 735 Main St. in Half Moon Bay.

The champion pumpkin, along with the top five pumpkins overall, will be on display at the festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For information on the weigh-off and festival, call 650-726-9652 or visit

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