Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Memo: A Really 'Great Pumpkin' Charlie Brown: Stay At Home Dad Wins Safeway Stores' Pumpkin Weigh-Off Contest With Massive 1,528 Pound Gourd

Thad Starr (pictured at left with his prize-winning pumpkin), a 41 year old stay at home dad from Pleasant Hill, Oregon USA is the winner of the 35th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, California.

This is Starr's second consecutive year to win the annual competition sponsored by Pleasanton, California-based Safeway Stores, Inc.

Safeway Stores, the third-largest U.S.-based supermarket chain, has a supermarket in Half Moon Bay, which is about 40 miles from its corporate headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The stay at home dad and grower of mighty pumpkins won this year's contest on October 13 with a massive 1,528-pound gourd. Starr's 'Great Pumpkin' is the second-biggest pumpkin in the world weighed to date this year.

In just his third year of growing competition pumpkins, Starr won for the second year in a row, taking home $9,168 in prize money ($6 per pound) and topping the Half Moon Bay record he set last year. He easily defeated a formidable, veteran field of sixty five heavyweight contenders to win the coveted title and a "starring role" in the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, which was held October 17-19, where his colossal guard was featured on display along with the top five overall winners' pumpkins.

The Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off is a part of the annual Half Moon Bay, California Art and Pumpkin Festival, which is held in the coastal Bay Area city each October. This year's festival was the 38th annual. Half Moon Bay is a major pumpkin-growing region. Safeway Stores has been sponsoring the weigh off contest for 35 years.

Click here for a list of additional Great Pumpkin winners, along with some additional photographs and information about this year's event.

The Safeway-sponsored Pumpkin Weigh-Off contest and related community festival is lots of fun for the residents of Half Moon Bay and the nearby communities who attend the vent in the thousands. However, for the competitors in the 'Great Pumpkin' Weigh-Off competition it's serious business. Like competitive eaters, chili cook-off contestants and competitive grilling masters, these growers of the giant gourds prepare all year for the big day.

We can imagine now that Thad Starr has won the contest two years in a row, the other competitors are going to be gunning for him next year, looking to prevent him from achieving that perfect trifecta (three years in a row) as the King of Pumpkin growers.

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