The contestants rolled in before dawn, hoping to keep their competitors in the dark. "Its' gonna be a fistfight right down to the end," said Gary Miller, a grower out of Napa. But the opponents fighting for this title aren't squaring off in a ring, they're facing off on the scales. "You gotta have a great seed to start out with and then you've gotta have pretty decent soil."
And that was about all he was willing to share. This year, the heat was on, with pumpkins weighing nearly a ton hoping to be the heaviest in the annual pumpkin weigh off that kicks off Half Moon Bay's weeklong Art and Pumpkin Festival.
Last year, an Oregon man took the top honors and set a new record. He won first prize with a pumpkin that weighed 1,775 pounds. At $6 a pound, he took home a cash prize of $10,600. This year, the two top contenders were both from Napa and were rumored to have pumpkins that could break the current world record of 2,032 pounds.
"Gary Miller's got a pumpkin today that has a shot at it. I believe it'll be over 2,000 pounds," said Russ Pugh out of Santa Rosa. Pugh is not a professional farmer. He says he's just a guy who enjoys the healthy competition of the Art & Pumpkin Festival and its welcoming vibe for families. "It's just kinda down home and just has a real great feeling to it," he said.
The contest offers cash prizes for the heaviest pumpkin grown in California and the heaviest grown in San Mateo County. There's even an award for the prettiest pumpkin and that award gets decided by audience applause.
Pugh called it right -- a big congratulations goes out to Gary Miller!