Autumn is here and it's harvest time. In October it is still quite warm in Northern California, and every place is decorated with pumpkins. People are eager to start the holiday season which starts with Halloween on the last day of the month. During October, people usually stop by pumpkin patches. There are big playgrounds for kids, and you can get your decorative pumpkins as well as the ones you want to eat. So if you happen to be in United States during October, don't forget to stop at a pumpkin patch, or check the events calendar for all the special events related to that.
For a few years now, we have been driving over to Pacific Coast Highway, to Half Moon Bay for the pumpkin festival. We had planned to do that this year also, but the first autumn storm got in the way. The rain would have not stopped us, but we didn't want to spend the day in traffic caused by the rain. So we took our Finnish guests to a pumpkin patch in our hometown instead. Maybe we will head to Half Moon Bay some other day, but here are some of our experiences at the pumpkin festival from recent years.
Half Moon Bay is a small coastal town, a little over half an hour drive from San Francisco to the south. It is known for the agriculture, fishing and the yearly pumpkin festival. Many people visit Half Moon Bay for it's nurseries or christmas tree farms. I have also been in Half Moon Bay for a few times for horseback riding trips. Most of the trails follow the coastline or take you down to the beach, so the views on these trails are magnificent.
The Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival is held every October, and runs through the weekend. You should arrive early since the festival has gotten very popular in recent years, and it might be difficult to find parking, or get through the traffic. Half Moon Bay's Main Street will be closed during the festival, and it is full of art and craft booths, food vendors and entertainers. The first pumpkin festival was held in 1971. A committee which was established to maintain the historic downtown and Main Street started a festival tradition in order to raise some money. In the first year they got approximately 30,000 visitors during the weekend, but today this number has at least doubled.
Usually, when we visit the pumpkin festival, we walk around the area and then find a nice restaurant or cafe to eat at. There are also a lot of street food options, and at least wine and beer for sale. Most times we haven't bought much, but if you like arts and crafts, I'm sure you can find lots of nice things.
There are plenty of things for kids. They can for example participate in a pumpkin pie eating contest or pumpkin carving. There is a playground and last year, there was a miniature mechanical bull for kids. The festival starts in the morning with a costume contest for both, kids and adults. If you walk a little further from Main Street, you can visit a haunted barn.. but only if you dare!
We have mostly been interested in the pumpkin related things. The area has always been nicely decorated, and before the festival weekend the farmers bring their biggest pumpkins for weighing. The biggest one is hidden in a tent and you can get yourself photographed with it for a small fee. For us, it has been enough to see the other pumpkins that participated in the contest. They always look enormous too. In my opinion, the most interesting thing is to see, what kind of pumpkins farmer Mike have carved. He truly is a master of pumpkin carving, or what do you think?
There is no entrance fee for the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, and it easily becomes a whole day thing. However, there are other things you can do at Half Moon Bay too if you visit. You can go and get your own pumpkins from local pumpkin patches, or go for a nice stroll on the beach. You should however bring your umbrella. Based on these pictures you can see that it has been raining then too. I hope we get to visit the pumpkin festival next year!