Monday, October 12, 2009

Patronizing the Pumpkin Patch

Robin, out standing in the field, near Half Moon Bay, California.

What is it about pumpkins that make a person smile? The color is wonderful and they are round as a harvest moon. But it is the season? The hint of Halloween? Whatever the answer the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Fest in Northern California has gained international acclaim for the size of its pumpkins and the prizes it awards each year. Farmers from all over the nation bring in their biggest pumpkins for the weigh-in, and crowds of visitors follow.

Pumpkins in crates near Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay, waiting to be set out for sale.

Local entrepreneurs bring in tons of pumpkins to sell. Pumpkins fill every inch of extra space in and around this tiny city on the Pacific, just south of San Francisco.

There is a big Pacific storm brewing off the California coast and today I dashed over to get a preview of the Half Moon Bay festivities. When the storm blows in it will be too wet to see much. And after that, little Half Moon Bay will be pretty crowded. Today, it was just a town full of pumpkins waiting for a festival to happen.

Early shoppers out purchasing pumpkins pre-festival and pre-storm.

The challenge visitors face is that narrow Highway 92 over the mountains from the Bay Area can only handle so much traffic and come festival weekend it will be slow going. In addition, merchants insist the festival's largest pumpkin (this year's winner is expected to weigh something close to 1,700 pounds) be displayed on Main Street, another choke point. So visitors are well advised to come early and park at a distance and be prepared for traffic jams and walking.

Pumpkins for sale along the highway.

I've mentioned before that my father caught the pumpkin-growing bug during the last years of his retirement before his illness set in. He began nurturing seeds he obtained from a Half Moon Bay contestant in Los Altos Hills. He grew some pretty big ones over the years--225 pounds was his record--and it always made us laugh when he would tell us the weight of his prize pumpkins. "Why is that so funny?" He would ask us in mock surprise, and we would laugh even harder.

Dad, with one of his last great pumpkins. That's his high-tech hearing aid around his neck, though now even that has ceased to work.

My father always had a large collection of curious hobbies. And they were almost always solo entertainments. Disney executives would have called him an IC--for "individual contributor"--and, not surprisingly I guess, that is just what they labeled me.

But, if you were going to make an individual contribution, a 225-pound pumpkin isn't a bad contribution to go out on. I just wish he had been with me today, to look for the 1,700 pound winner and to give me his sternest look when I showed any evidence that I might crack a smile as I ogled a pumpkin the size of a Volkswagon.

Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival Information

Subscribe to Robin Chapman News

Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival Information

1 comment:

Devon C. said...

So the Half Moon Bay pumpkin festival made it into the Panama City paper with a picture of the winner. It made me laugh too, how can you not laugh at such thing. Whoever heard of a pumpkin weighing a ton, literally?