Pumpkin Weigh-off People, a Big Prize Just Got Bigger

Have you always dreamed of entering a giant gourd at the Safeway World Championship Weigh-off in Half Moon Bay? You may want to get planting.

Diana Haronis

What to Know

  • Half Moon Bay's 48th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off
  • Oct. 11, 2021
  • The first place pumpkin will now be paid at $9 a pound (formerly $7 per pound)

THE PALETTE OF MAY? It's a month known for its purple jacaranda blossoms, its red roses, and those soft, gray mornings seen up and down the coast. In short? We probably don't have the color orange, as in the orange we associate with Halloween and the delights of autumn, swirling through our spirits and souls around the middle of springtime. But swirl, it should, if you've ever dreamed of entering one of the quirkiest California-based competitions around. It's Half Moon Bay's annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off, the showy showdown that sees gargantuan gourds rolling up on the back of huge trucks. It always takes place on a Monday in October, traditionally a few days ahead of the charming village's famous Art & Pumpkin Festival. And it is set to "roll" in 2021 on Oct. 11, following a fall that saw no in-person spectators but rather a livestream of the happening. So why are we pining for pumpkins as May arrives?

THE WINNING CASH... was just increased, for the first place winner, in a significant way. Formerly the top pumpkin would net $7 per pound, but Miramar Events, the organization that helms the weigh-off, announced on April 30 that the prize would increase to $9 per pound in 2021. That's a notable increase, when you consider that the victorious pumpkin in 2020 tipped the scales at 2,350 pounds (Travis Gienger of Minnesota raised the superstar squash). There are also more winnings to be had if your pumpkin breaks the world record. Of course, competition is as stiff as a well-formed stem, with pumpkin-loving people entering from several states. But if you're thinking of trying your hand at this oh-so-autumnal tradition, you best start plotting your pumpkin's journey soon.

SPEAKING OF MAY? It's a prime month to begin the process of growing pumpkins in several parts of the Golden State, whether you intend to enter your orange orbs in the Half Moon Bay contest or not. Check the specific growing schedule in your area before you seek seeds, fine vines, and potential pumpkin glory come the fall of 2021.

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