Bradley Wittke/Miramar Events(MOON BAY, Calif.) — A third-grade teacher from Washington state squashed the competition on Monday with her 1,910-pound pumpkin named “Orange Crush,” becoming the first woman in 19 years to win the annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, California.
Cindy Tobeck, 42, won the top prize of $6 per pound, according to Miramar Events, which hosted the weigh-off — for a total of $11,460. She also won the opportunity to lead a parade at the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival this Saturday.
“Winning this world championship was a dream come true, a realization of my ultimate pumpkin fantasy,” Tobeck told ABC News Tuesday, adding that she’s been “enchanted with giant pumpkins” since she was a little girl.
“When I was in kindergarten, my parents bought an old dairy farm and started our first garden,” she said. “The pumpkins got so big, it was magical. My dad then took me to a state fair to show me even bigger ones. That day, I made it my goal to be a giant pumpkin grower someday.”
Tobeck made her first attempt in 1977, when she said she grew a 500-pound pumpkin in a pile of manure.
The elementary school teacher has come a long way since then. She now owns a six-acre property and 7,000 square feet is dedicated to giant pumpkins.
“I plant six pumpkins every year and they get each get 1,000 square feet of space to grow,” Tobeck said. She added that she spends “a couple hours each day” tending to her pumpkins.
Tobeck’s prize-winning pumpkin this year has been the culmination of nearly six months of “hard work,” she said, explaining that she originally planted its seeds this past April.
“It’s all been so worth it,” Tobeck said. “This Monday was was the most fun I’d ever had at at a weigh-off.”
The teacher said she got to “ride her pumpkin in on a forklift,” and when the pumpkin’s award-winning weight “flashed across the screen” during the finale, the song “We Are the Champions” came on and she “hopped on the pumpkin, grabbed a microphone and sang along with the crowd.”
Tobeck and her 1,910-pound pumpkin will be back on a float on Saturday for Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival’s annual parade.
After Saturday’s event, the pumpkin will be transported to the Bellagio in Las Vegas, where it will be carved and put on display for Halloween.
The current world record for the heaviest pumpkin is 2,323 pounds, set in 2014 by Swiss grower Beni Meier at a weigh-off in Ludwigsburg, Germany.
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