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Vargas Elementary School Teacher Wins “Most Beautiful” Pumpkin!


The Half Moon Bay’s 41st Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off was held on October 13th where about 25 (down this year due to the drought) accomplished, veteran mega-gourd growers from California brought their biggest and best pumpkins to be weighed. Using a 5-ton capacity digital scale, a forklift, and harnesses pumpkins were carefully lifted onto the scale for the weigh-off. The current world record pumpkin is 2,323 pounds set on October 12, 2014 by Swiss grower Beni Meier at a pumpkin weigh-off in Ludwigsburg, Germany.

Among the entrants was our very own Eric Carlson. There are two categories in this pumpkin weigh-off event, the “Biggest” and the “Most Beautiful”. The “Most Beautiful” pumpkin is chosen by the crowd cheering. This year Mr. Carlson won the “Most Beautiful” pumpkin for the 4th time! His family has owned a horse ranch all of his life and farming is in his blood. He lives on a 78 acre farm in Portola Valley where he takes care of 155 horses with his wife and three sons and has been growing pumpkins since 1994, when he grew the state record at 706 pounds. Seeds are planted in the spring and are twice the size of a normal pumpkin seed. This year he grew 3 pumpkins which weighed 1637, 1350, and 1148 pounds, the 1637 pound pumpkin is his largest to date. “Giant pumpkins are the fastest growing fruit on the planet and only seaweed and bamboo plants grow faster”, said Mr. Carlson. He added, “It’s amazing to see a basketball sized fruit put on 30 pounds in one night and almost double in size, and for the next 40 days grow over 30 pounds a day”. Mr. Carlson has spent several years developing a pumpkin seed to be both big and orange. In his new venture, he will be partnering with Web Ranch as an actual farmer and planting 100 of his patented “Portola Valley Red” seeds with hope that one will be the “Most Beautiful” again next year!

Mr. Carlson sitting on top of his 1637 lb. pumpkin!
Mr. Carlson sitting on top of his 1637 lb. pumpkin!

Eric Carlson is an Adaptive Physical Education Teacher at Vargas Elementary School. Although one of his hobbies includes growing giant pumpkins, his passion is teaching. He stated, “I have always loved children. Everyone is born with an inherent “joy of movement” and many of us lose that joy around 3rd grade. I have tried to keep that joy alive in as many children as possible for the past 26 years in Sunnyvale”.

If you would like to cheer Mr. Carlson on next year you can find more information regarding this fun family event at:

Article by Deborah Dodge 

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