An Oregon man has won the 39th annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off held in downtown Half Moon Bay this morning.
Thad Starr, of Pleasant Hill, Ore., took home the title by growing a pumpkin that weighed 1,775 pounds, a new California record for the heaviest pumpkin.
"I am surprised," Starr said after his pumpkin's weight confirmed that he was the 2012 winner. "We're so thrilled."
Starr said his 9-year-old daughter Danika picked the seed that grew the monster pumpkin about 105 days ago. Starr and his two children posed for pictures next to the massive pumpkin, which took a forklift, five volunteers and series of harnesses and chains to position onto the scale. The farmer said that his secret for growing the winning specimen was his wife and kids.
"My family is my secret," he said. "All this could not have been possible without them."
As the winner, he will receive a cash prize of $6 per pound, or $10,650.
"We're going to Disneyland," Starr said.
The second-heaviest pumpkin was also raised in Pleasant Hill, Ore., prompting Starr to say, "it must be something in the soil up there."
Steve Daletus grew the second-prize specimen that weighed in at 1,521 pounds. The third heaviest pumpkin was from Napa, weighing 1,480 pounds and grown by farmer John Hawkley.
Hundreds of people gathered on Main Street to watch the contest, enthusiastically cheering each weighing. The Half Moon Bay High School marching band kept the energy up, playing classic hits like "My Girl" and "YMCA."
The morning's festivities also included a contest for the most beautiful pumpkin — chosen by the audience — a perfectly round, orange, 380-pound specimen from Portola Valley.
Grower Eric Carlson said that his beauty's name was "Eye Candy."
Eye Candy and the top five heaviest pumpkins in the contest will be part of a special display at the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival, which takes place Saturday and Sunday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
1st — Thad Starr, Pleasant Hill OR, 1,775 lbs., $10,650
2nd — Steve Daletas, Pleasant Hill OR, 1,521 lbs., $2,000
3rd — John Hawkley, Napa CA, 1,480 lbs., $1,500
4th — Ross Pugh, Santa Rosa CA, 1,446 lbs., $1,000
5th — Robert Globus, Walnut Grove CA, 1,442 lbs., $500
6th — Tim Mathison, Napa CA, 1,439 lbs., $500
7th — Ron Root, Citrus Heights CA, 1,415 lbs., $500
8th — Gary Miller, Napa CA, 1,284 lbs., $500
9th — Jim Sherwood, Mulino OR, 1,277 lbs., $500
10th — Russ Pingrey, Santa Rosa CA, 1,203 lbs., $500
Biggest from California — John Hawkley, Napa CA, 1,480 lbs., $1,000
Biggest from Coastside — John Muller, Half Moon Bay CA, 480 lbs., $500
Most Beautiful Pumpkin — Eric Carlson, Portola Valley CA, $500
— Bay City News