It is a weekend of pumpkin records at the 24th annual Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival.
Jose Ceja, of Napa, captured the day Saturday at the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival Weigh-Off. His pumpkin weighed in at 2,138 pounds, the largest pumpkin ever grown in California.
The former record holder was Josiah Brandt, of Rudolph, Wisconsin, who brought a 2,095-pound pumpkin to the weigh-off in 2017.
Ceja has been competing in the Elk Grove weigh-off for 20 years. He also took the title in 2004 with a 989-pound entry.
Ceja said he felt relieved and happy when he saw the official weight on the scale. “It’s nice to have the biggest pumpkin in California after so much hard work.”
His pumpkin grew to be over one ton in just 106 days. It was not easy. Ceja said in order to grow giants like this, “you need good soil, a good seed, and a lot of luck from God.”
Over fifty gigantic gourds were carefully moved with a forklift to a special scale on Saturday in Elk Grove Regional Park. Pumpkin growers from all over California and beyond posed with their pumpkins for photos after the weights were taken. An enthusiastic crowd cheered them on.
The pumpkin entries ranged in color, size and shape. Ceja nicknamed his pumpkin “the camel” because of the large hump on top.
Brandt took second place with a pumpkin weighing 2,077 pounds. His pumpkin will be involved in another unique record at the festival. Three world-renowned pumpkin carvers will sculpt it into a giant jack-o’-lantern for a Guinness World Records official attempt.
A handful of the smaller, 600- to 1,000-pound pumpkins will be hollowed and carved into pumpkin boats for the festival’s Pumpkin Regatta held Sunday at noon.
The Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival is organized by the Cosumnes CSD Parks and Recreation Department in partnership with many sponsors. A portion of festival proceeds benefit local youth and service organizations. In 2017, the festival attracted an estimated 50,000 guests. Become a friend of the festival on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Find more information at yourcsd.com/GPF.