Half Moon Bay pumpkin breaks festival record

The record was broken in Half Moon Bay's Pumpkin Weigh Off, but was just short of the world record set at 2,703 pounds.

Dozens of competitors lined up early in the morning and they came from all over the region. The winner traveled from halfway across the country.

Travis Gienger of Anoka, Minn. took home the title for the heaviest pumpkin. 

His gourd measured 2,560 pounds. That's a record not just for the Half Moon Bay festival, but for any pumpkin grown in North America. 

He won a $23,400 prize for his massive growth. 

There was buzz his entry would beat the world record, which added a bit of extra pressure.

"I almost wish I came in as an underdog," he joked.

Gienger won the competition in 2020 as well. 

Steve Daletas of Pleasant Hill, Oreg. took home second place, a $3,000 prize; his pumpkin weighed 2,425.

Normally, the pumpkin weigh-off is the first of a number of events this week in Half Moon Bay leading up to the pumpkin festival this weekend, which is marking its 50th anniversary. This year will be the first time the festival is on since 2019.

Cameron Palmer, festival committee president, explained there is a lot of work that goes into the festival to make sure it runs smoothly.

"We want the event to be safe, so we do a lot of meeting and pre-planning to make that happen," he said. 

The Pumpkin Festival begins Saturday, October 15th at 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. It opens with a pumpkin breakfast starting at 7 a.m.