A Rhode Island welder won a contest for the biggest pumpkin Monday with an entry weighing 1,443 pounds, while a retired Washington firefighter won a similar contest in California (search) with an entry weighing 1,229 pounds.

Scott Palmer took top honors at the 12th annual Rhode Island Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers Championship (search). Joel Holland won the annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off.

The world record is a 1,446-pound pumpkin grown last year by Al Eaton, of Ontario, Canada, according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (search).

"Best day of my life. I got my family here, helped me grow it all year, what else is there to say?" said Palmer, who took home $3,500 as the victor.

Holland said his pumpkin could make roughly 600 pumpkin pies but instead will be displayed in a parade in Half Moon Bay this coming weekend, then carved into a jack-o'-lantern for Halloween.

"Maybe we'll set a record for the size of a pumpkin pie next," said Holland, who has won the competition five years in a row. He won last year with a pumpkin that weighed exactly the same amount.

Holland's pumpkin had to be removed from the back of a pickup truck with a crane.

Holland, 56, attributed his success to two decades of pumpkin growing experience and the favorable climate at his Puyallup, Wash., home. The Atlantic Giant was hand-pollinated and grew from July to October.

Contenders beware: Holland plans to use the seeds from this year's giant to spawn another behemoth.