HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- They came out hoping to set a world record, but this year's winner of the Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off, Leonardo Urena of Napa, says he is excited to have just grown a pumpkin over 2,000 pounds.
"That was my goal. This is my first pumpkin over 2,000 pounds, and I am so excited. I worked so hard," says Urena. "I'm so proud to win first place."
His pumpkin weighed in at 2,175 pounds, which is five pounds more than 2018's winner. The world record was set in 2016 at 2,624 pounds.
Urena's is only the second pumpkin grown in California this year to weigh over 2,000 pounds. He will get a check for $15,225, which he says will be put towards his children's education fund.
Many of the growers say cooler temperatures this spring, made it hard to grow bigger pumpkins.
"I'd love to (win)!" says John Hawkley, also from Napa. "Back in 2014 we won here. We were the first pumpkin to break 2,000 pounds. And I have been trying ever since!"
Hawley placed fourth. He says getting pumpkins to grow into these gargantuan gourds is about finding the right seeds, spending months preparing the soil and feeding these beasts.
"I watered it twice a day, and then I feed it every three days through drip tubes," explains Hawkley.
Some of these pumpkins can grow by 50 pounds a day.
For the crowd of several hundred people who came out, it's all about tipping the scale, hoping someone breaks the world record. But for a select few, they have a more specialized taste.
"I like green ones," says 8-year-old June Dalkert, not too concerned for how big the pumpkins get.
Cindy Tobeck, who lives near Seattle, won this event in 2016. She says the massive pumpkins are a sight to see, but comes with a lot of hard work and lots of luck.
"In the springtime it gets really cold, so I need to keep it in a warmer environment, but it can also be very windy in the spring time, so I really test my engineering and carpentering skills when the winds pick up and are beating down my greenhouses every spring," says Tobeck.
Urena's pumpkin will be part of this weekend's Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival.
Earlier this year, Half Moon Bay's Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off was named as the first ever recipient of the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth's (GPC) World's Top Weigh-Off site award spanning a 25 year period from 1993-2018.
This inaugural award was presented to the weigh-off site that has weighed the ten heaviest pumpkins in the history of the site being part of the GPC," said GPC Historian Jack Larue. "In 2018, the GPC sanctioned 114 weigh-off sites worldwide," said Larue.
The top ten pumpkins weighed at the Half Moon Bay site have a total combined weight of 20,414.0 pounds for an average weight of 2,041.4 pounds. The Ohio Valley weigh-off site came in second place with a top ten total combined weight of 20,282.0 pounds for an average weight of 2,028.2 pounds. In third place was the Stillwater Minnesota weigh-off site with a top ten total combined weight of 20,168.0 pounds for an average of 2,016.8 pounds.
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