"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"
Travis Gienger grows pumpkins—really, really big pumpkins. Gienger, a horticulture professor at Anoka Technical College in Minnesota, has spent two decades growing giant pumpkins. In fact, he had hopes of winning the Safeway 47th World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off this year, an annual festival held in Half Moon Bay, California.
Gienger had never entered the contest before, however, he was determined to try. So, he purchased an $80 pumpkin seed and got to work. Gienger's family nicknamed it the “Tiger King” after the popular Netflix series due to the stripes that developed on its surface.
When the time came to move the pumpkin to the contest, Gienger himself hauled the behemoth to California on a flatbed trailer—the trip took him 35 hours. The massive gourd was set in a specially-made pallet; packed tightly with tarps, pool noodles, and blankets; and watered at every stop.
The giant gourd weighed in at 2,350 pounds, the second-largest ever to be weighed in North America this year. It took top honors at the contest, and Gienger walked away with the title of champion and with $16,450 in his pocket—a $7 payout per pound.
Gienger plans to donate the pumpkin to Anoka’s Halloween celebration, which marks its 100th anniversary this year. The award-winning pumpkin is a great addition to the celebration and a point of pride for both Gienger and his town. He plans to enter the competition again next year, hoping to break the world record of 2,624 pounds—a feat he narrowly missed this year.
You can check out some of the other contenders on the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off Facebook page.
Can you imagine growing a pumpkin this large in your backyard? Comment below.