Support Local Journalism


In the world of car-sized pumpkins, Aaron Hadaller has a way to go, but the Central Washington University police officer has grown some eye-popping gourds the past few years.

Bigger is better and the Wildcat cop has Ellensburg in the Halloween spirit with this year’s effort weighing in at 894 pounds. That one’s on display at Mid-State Coop, 410 W. Third Ave. He also has another one that tipped the scales at 678 pounds. His best effort to date was last year with a 1,150.5-pounder.


“I’ve been doing this as a hobby for a while. I used to live over on the Westside. And I started helping a family friend through the church. I didn’t start getting into it until I moved over here,” Hadaller said. “My first one here was in 2015 and I took that to a weigh-off and I placed fourth with 397 pounds.

“The one I grew this year is 894 pounds, but with the COVID-19 restrictions, I wasn’t able to take it to a weigh-off.”

The pumpkins he’s growing weigh as much as several small cars around town. But, interestingly enough, they are Baby Boomers in comparison to what folks saw at the Moon Bay’s 47th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off last week near San Francisco.


Travis Gienger’s from Minnesota won a grand prize of $16,450 for having the heaviest pumpkin this year at 2,350 pounds. The organizers of the Half Moon Bay event offered a $30,000 prize to anyone who broke the world record. Believe it or not, Gienger’s effort was still 274 pounds shy of the world record.

The heaviest pumpkin in the world (2,624.6 pounds) was grown by Mathias Willemijns of Belgium. It was authenticated by the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) in Ludwigsburg, Germany, on Oct. 9 2016. Gienger did break the California record of 2,175 pounds, set last year by Leonardo Urena of Napa.


Competition is crazy fierce in the world of car-sized pumpkins. The record for the biggest has changed hands five times in as many years. Willemijns’ pumpkin behemoth took the title from the 2,323-pound goliath grown by Swiss farmer Beni Meier in 2014. Gienger is in the mix somewhere.

The key, Hadaller said, is in the seeds.

“It’s type of seed and the genetics,” he said. “It’s the genetic giant is the type of pumpkin that it is. You can’t just take a pumpkin from the store and grow what I’m doing.

“It’s been fun. You can literally watch them grow. The one I grew last year that was over a thousand pounds was growing 24 pounds a day. The growing cycle is mid-April to October. It’s addictive, you grow these things and you’re thinking I can do it better next year.”


He is a member of the Pacific Northwest Giant Pumpkin Growers Association, which supports quality gardening techniques, teaching, great genetic quality, cutting edge product information, quality club management, and moderates competitions.

He’s the only grower east of the Cascades and the goal is a 2,000-pounder if he can.


Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.