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, a new California state record.
The former record holder was Josiah Brandt, of Rudolph, Wisconsin, who brought a 2,095-pound pumpkin to the weigh-off in 2017.
The festival paid Ceja a cash prize of $14,996 — $7 a pound — for his winner.
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.”
Ceja’s family attended the weigh-off. “We are so very proud and excited for him this year,” his daughter, Elizabeth Ceja said in an email. “He pours his heart and soul into these pumpkins and it’s nice to see all his work finally pay off.”
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.
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.