2,363 Pound Gourd Sets New American Record At Pumpkin Weigh-Off Contest

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Joe Holland celebrates next to his prize-winning pumpkin (Photo Credit Bradley Wittke, Miramar Events)

October is pumpkin month in the US. For most people, this means devouring the various pumpkin-filled treats or visiting pumpkin patches to pick out the perfect gourd to carve for Halloween. However, for some, it means the chance to showcase their giant produce at pumpkin weigh-offs. Though there are numerous such contests held across the country, the “Super Bowl” takes place annually at Half Moon Bay, CA, aka “The World Pumpkin Capital.”

The contest, which recently celebrated its 44th year, has always been extremely popular with master pumpkin growers. However, since 2015, it has become even more so, because contestants now have the potential to take home as much as $30,000 in prize money. To claim the “World Record Prize,” competitors have to submit a “World Record Pumpkin.” This year, that meant one heavier than the gargantuan 2,624-pound pumpkin, which broke the world record at the Giant Pumpkin European Championship in 2016. If the winning entry was unable to surpass the record, the owner would still receive a generous $7 per pound.

Prizewinning pumpkins on display at Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival (Photo Credit: Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival)

This year’s competition, which took place on October 9, attracted over 20 beautiful pumpkins from across the country. The owners, as well as thousands of spectators, watched with bated breath as the fruits were carefully picked up by forklifts and placed on the digital weighing scale. While nine of the entries came in at over 1,100 pounds each, they were no match for seven-time winner Joel Holland’s massive 2,363-pound masterpiece.

Though the retired firefighter from Sumner, WA did not break the world record, he did set a new American record with his giant gourd, which is also the second heaviest pumpkin ever grown! Holland was handsomely rewarded for his efforts, with Half Moon Bay’s coveted “Mel Mello Sr. Grand Champion Green Jacket” and a cash prize of $16,541 ($7 per pound).

Joe Holland poses next to his prize-winning pumpkin (Photo Credit Bradley Wittke, Miramar Events)

2016 champion Cindy Tobeck from Olympia, WA received $2,000 for her 2,002 pounder, while Jeff Uhimeyer of Tumwater, WA took home $1,500 for his 1,927 pound entry. The “Biggest Coastside Pumpkin” award went to Geroge Armanino of Pescadero, CA, while Art Martinez of Fremont, CA won the popular choice award for growing the most beautiful pumpkin. In addition to bragging rights, they each took home a cash prize of $500.

The four heaviest pumpkins have been retained for display at Half Moon Bay’s Art and Pumpkin Festival, taking place this weekend (October 14 to 15). If you are among the lucky ones able to see them, be sure to let us know what the colossal produce looks like up-close, by adding your comments below.

Resources: pumpkinfest.miramarevents.co

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VocabularyPlay Game

bated breathbraggingcolossaldevouringgargantuangenerousgourdhandsomelymassivemasterpiecepotentialretainedshowcasespectatorssurpass

Reading Comprehension (14 questions)

  1. How do most people celebrate pumpkin month in the US?
  2. Where is the most popular pumpkin weigh-off contest held?

Critical Thinking Challenge

Do you think the fact that all three winners are from Washington mean...


Vocabulary in Context

If the winning entry was unable to surpass the record, the owner would still receive a generous $7 per pound.

In the above sentence, the word generous most likely means:


  • pineapplegirlWednesday, November 14, 2018 at 4:55 pm
    • HugeoSunday, October 28, 2018 at 6:36 am
      Biggest. Pumpkin. Ever.
      • mdTuesday, October 23, 2018 at 10:27 am
        it could probly feed many people
        • djThursday, October 18, 2018 at 7:11 pm
          wow that is rereally big !!!!!
          • waffleWednesday, October 17, 2018 at 7:23 am
            u could make a HUGE PIE with that huge pumpkin plus how can you find a pumpkin like that.
            • wowzazMonday, October 15, 2018 at 12:48 pm
              • IJThursday, October 4, 2018 at 5:46 pm
                that is a big pumpkin
                • princesjd88
                  princesjd88Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 9:35 am
                  Right now we are learning text features and we are using this for our example. I am so shocked, this pumpkin is HHUUUGGGEEE
                  • princesjd88
                    princesjd88Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 9:28 am
                    Imagine all the chemicals on it... ew Still impressive
                    • SubZeroExtabyteThursday, October 4, 2018 at 9:16 am

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