Teacher takes home Half Moon Bay pumpkin title

A third-grade teacher from Littlerock, Wash. walked away with the grand prize for biggest pumpkin Monday at the 43rd Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay.

Cindy Tobeck’s prodigious gourd weighed in at a whopping 1,910 pounds, earned her $1,460 in prize money, a grand champion’s commemorative jacket and the place of honor in the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival parade on Saturday.

A somewhat breathless Tobeck said after the weigh-in:

“I really knocked it out of the park today. … What I’m most excited about is being in the parade.”

While she said hasn’t given much thought to how she’ll spend the prize money — more compost for the pumpkin patch is likely — Tobeck said she’s got her parade finery all picked out:

“It’s a pumpkin crown and a pumpkin scepter and an orange cape.”

This isn’t Tobeck’s first foray into pumpkin-related competition.

She took first prize in Washington’s biggest weigh-in last year with a hefty squash of more than 1,500 pounds, she said.

Additionally, Tobeck, who says her hobbies are growing giant pumpkins and competing in horse shows, recently won a national championship with her Arabian gelding, Carnelian Moon.

She said:

“I’m having the best month ever.”

As for her championship Giant Atlantic variety pumpkin, Tobeck says it all starts with seeds that have good genetic potential. She planted the winner on April 15, pollinated it on June 16 and just 95 days ago it was the size of her thumb, she said.

While this king-size pumpkin is headed for a display at a Las Vegas casino after the parade, Tobeck will harvest its seeds to grow next year’s entry. She also plans to give away the championship genetic material to friends and giant pumpkin growing clubs:

“Now those seeds, they’ll be in high demand.”

Before the massive pumpkin departs for the glitz and glamour of Sin City, people can check it out, along with the three runners up, at the pumpkin festival this Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Main Street in Half Moon Bay.

Word of her victory has already traveled back home, where it was announced over her school’s intercom. She said:

“The kids were rooting for me. … I’m just so excited.”