Leonardo Urena of Napa captured the day at the 25th annual Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 5. His pumpkin weighed in at 1,938 pounds, beating his personal record by one pound.
Urena has been competing in the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off at Elk Grove Regional Park for 20 years. He also took the title in 2005 and 2011.
A bit surprised by the outcome, Urena attributed his win to the others who did not bring their biggest pumpkin to the festival this year.
“For some reason, they didn’t bring their biggest pumpkin or they lost their fruit they were growing,” he said. “I’m lucky.”
Urena also brought home four other giant produce awards, including longest gourd, tallest cornstalk, biggest tomato, and one for his giant sunflower.
Around 10 of the smaller, 600- to 1,000-pound pumpkins were hollowed and carved into pumpkin boats for the festival’s Pumpkin Regatta held on Oct. 6.
A question often asked to the giant pumpkin growers by members of the public pertains to the duration of time it takes to grow these large gourds.
“We tell them between 90 to 105 days,” Urena said. “It’s so fun to see their jaws drop. They cannot believe that these monsters can put on 30, 40, 50 pounds a day.”
Returning winner, Pleasant Grove Elementary School student Katie Looper, age 10, won first place for the following awards: Future Farmer, watermelon, heaviest Future Farmer pumpkin.
Also this year, Girl Scout Troop 1691 became junior pumpkin farmers and planted pumpkin seeds in the Elk Grove Community Garden.
Winning a cash prize of $3,000 third place winner for the heftiest pumpkin, Napa resident Ruben Frias’s giant weighed in at 1,594 pounds.
Rules of pumpkin weigh-offs mandate that contestants can only enter a pumpkin once at each weigh-off. Other such large pumpkin weigh-offs are held in Salinas and Half Moon Bay.