Napa man wins pumpkin weigh-off with 1,985-pound gourd

A Napa man who grew a record-breaking 1,985-pound pumpkin won the annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay this morning.

Gary Miller's winning gourd has garnered him a prize of $11,910, or $6 per pound. His pumpkin is the heaviest the 40-year-old contest has ever seen, contest spokesman Tim Beeman said.

Safeway had offered a bonus of $30,000 if a pumpkin broke the world record of 2,009 pounds, but Miller's pumpkin came up short of that.

Last year's winner in the Half Moon Bay contest was Thad Starr, of Pleasant Hill, Ore., who grew a 1,775-pound pumpkin.

The weigh-off started around 7 a.m. today, with growers from around the country hauling their large loads to the parking lot at 735 Main St. where the contest was held.

Miller also won the honor of having the heaviest pumpkin from the state of California, which earned him an extra $1,000.

The heftiest pumpkin grown in San Mateo County was from Eda Muller's Half Moon Bay pumpkin farm, which she maintains with her husband John. Her 1,104-pound pumpkin gained her a $500 prize.

Another award went to the “prettiest” pumpkin, which is judged by the audience based on color, shape and size.

Vince Zunino, of Los Altos Hills, won that $500 prize for his good-looking pumpkin, which Beeman described as “magnificent in both the color and shape.”

For the weigh-off, the giant gourds were hauled onto a 5-ton digital scale using forklifts and special harnesses, with officials from the San Mateo County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures office overseeing the process.

The three heaviest pumpkins were all grown at farms in Napa, according to Beeman.

The winning pumpkins, along with the top five runners up, will be on display at the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 19 and 20.

The weekend-long festival includes music, a “Great Pumpkin Parade” with an appearance by former San Francisco Giants player J.T. Snow, a haunted house, pumpkin-themed foods and treats, pie-eating and costume contests, pumpkin carving and other activities.

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