• Fall Traditions // My Favorite Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival Festivities

    The Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival has become a fall tradition, one that marks the true start of this festive season for me.

    Still in its infancy, this tradition was started only three years ago when my best friend and I decided to head out for a fall adventure. I can’t remember how we discovered the festival—my guess is that some fall spider senses were tingling—but this pumpkin celebration has easily become an October must in our books.

    The first year we ventured out it was hoooooot! Like we stepped outside of an October in California and into the sun. Yes, INTO the sun. We arrived dressed in your traditional fall attire—sweaters, scarves, boots & all the layers—only to leave sweaty and stripped down to our tank tops. Fall fun was had, but it was hard to get in the autumnal groove when we were sweating profusely and running from one shaded awning to the next.

    The second year—and this is where The Story of Goldilocks and the Three Little Bears gets a little twisted—was juuuuuuust right. It was overcast, it was brisk and it sprinkled ever so slightly. Ahhh, pure fall bliss. We could have done without the wind and rain, but hey, we’re Californians—a light sprinkling might as well be a full-blown typhoon.   

    Year Three: The Year We Almost Got Washed Away. Hi, welcome to the story where we almost got obliterated by the rain. Just kidding!…but really. I don’t think I have ever been out in so much rain before, for such an extended period of time. We. Got. Soaked. My heavy duty rain jacket must have weighed about 100 pounds by the time we soggily made our way back to the car. Not to mention the car almost got swallowed by the mud pit that was the car lot. No joke, as we were leaving a sedan got stuck trying to leave. Thank goodness for best friends with SUVs!

    Despite being dripping wet, cold and drinking rainwater beer because it was useless trying to shield your beverage from the downpour, we had a blast! If that’s not a testament to how fun this festival is, I don’t know what is.

    What makes this festival so fun it’s worth hanging out in the pouring rain for hours on end? Well, lots of things! But aside from the obvious awesome crafts, artists and all the pumpkin flavored things, these are some of my favorite Pumpkin Festival highlights:

    P.s. There is only one picture to document this festive time because A. one hand was usually holding a beverage, while the other an umbrella. And B. My hands were dripping wet and every time I took my phone out to try and snap a shot it immediately got drenched. So...

    Top 5 things to check out at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

    Mini Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Donuts

    Yes, you read that correctly. We always start our day off with a dozen of these made to order, hot and steamy, delicious mini pumpkin donuts. These little pumpkin nuggets are doused in a hefty sprinkling of cinnamon sugar goodness worthy of the gods. I am telling you, if you don’t get anything else at the pumpkin festival, do yourself a favor and get these. They’re pure magic.

    Be on the look out for these little guys—they’re in a white tent off to the left as you enter the festival.

    Buy them. Eat them. Love them.

    Catch the Great Pumpkin Parade 

    Held on the Saturday of the festival weekend at noon, this parade starts off with a band, dancers and other performers. Expect to see adorable children in cute fall and Halloween costumes making their way down the street. Oh, and beware the falling candy—parade participants like to toss candy into the unsuspecting crowds. Literally, there will be candy flying at your head, so watch out!

    After the cute kids and flying candy get those cameras ready because up next is the grand finale. The showstopper. The festival queen AKA the mother of all pumpkins. Cruising at a risky speed of 2–5mph is the winner of the annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. This gigantic gourd is accompanied by her proud grower as they make their way down the strip, wrapping up the parade festivities.

    This year’s winning pumpkin weighed a whopping 1,910 pounds! Grower Cindy Tobeck from Washington exclaims that winning this contest was her “ultimate pumpkin fantasy!” Gotta love it!

    Have Soup & Eat It Too

    The pumpkin soup, my friends, is to die for. Heads up, it’s kind of hidden and not among all the other food vendors in the “food court”. It’s sneakily located in a two story green building on the right hand side as you walk into the festival. I can’t remember the name of the building (eek, so sorry!) but it’s some sort of a cafe if my memory serves me correctly. There’s no big sign alluding to their magic soup skills. There’s no sign about soup at all. But it’s there—trust me. And it’s DELICIOUS. Plus, the fresh baked bread they serve with it just makes it that much better!

    Pumpkin Carving King

    Don’t miss Farmer Mike’s mad pumpkin carving skills! Using a folding Buck knife, this guy carves pieces of art into the sides of ginormous pumpkins. We’re talking gourds between 300 and 1,500 pounds! Seeing him at work is definitely worth checking out!

    Come for the Pumpkins, Stay for the Cocktails

    The Half Moon Bay Brewing Company always has a booth set up where they serve some stellar select brews. I, of course, always get their Pumpkin Harvest Ale. Because, um…pumpkin ale!

    You can also find the Half Moon Bay Winery here with a superb vino selection. But, if you’re like me and can’t wait to get your hands on a yummy, seasonal + artisanal cocktail, then you’re in for a treat! The Half Moon Bay Distillery serves up a cocktail concoction that is fall-tastic—the Jack-o-tini. This was the first year my friend and I discovered this heavenly beverage, and we’ve collectively decided it’s our new fall favorite. It’s a mix of the Distillery’s vodka, orange juice, pumpkin puree, simple syrup, vanilla extract and a squeeze of lemon. Basically, it’s pumpkin bliss in a plastic cup. Ahem, they also serve up a traditional Bloody Mary for you non-pumpkin folk… ANYways, it’s bomb!

    And there you have it, my 5 Pumpkin Festival musts! With the bajillion other fun, pumpkin-centric things to do and try at this festival you’re bound to create your own list of 5 musts! Are you a Pumpkin Festival regular? I’d love to hear what you’re favorite parts about the festival are! Never been before? I hope this bloggie post has got you all psyched and ready for year number 47! I’ll be there! Will you??

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