It's a pumpkin menu like no other: beer, pancakes, pie, bread, cake rolls, cheesecake, cookies, ice cream, pumpkin, churros, and chicken pumpkin sausages... This weekend at the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival, thousands will descend on the usually sleepy town to celebrate pumpkins in every way possible: food, music, beer, and baked goods (pretzels with pumpkin sauce are better than you think).
Last year's pumpkin champ is Thad Starr, hailing from Pleasant Hill, Ore., who brought a ginormous 1,775-pound mega-gourd that set a new California weigh-off record. Our advice for this pumpkin extravaganza: avoid Highway 92 at all costs -- Highway 1 is usually a breeze from San Francisco. Early birds score the best parking. Bring cash, and that big farmers' market bag to tote your pumpkin-y goods back to the car.
Food-wise, this festival offers a bounty that includes the usual booths of fried goods (not on theme, but the fried artichokes are worth it). Special treats are around if you know where to look. Start with a hearty linguiça sausage on a soft roll. Then make your way to the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company zone and nab a glass of Mavericks harvest pumpkin ale, made with local Sugar Pie pumpkins. Sports fans can get their fix in this region, where the NFL and NCAA football and MLB playoffs will be shows on giant screen LED televisions. Next, hop in line for a chance at a picture with a giant pumpkin -- yes, your food-themed holiday card is now taken care of. There is also the world's largest pumpkin sculpture measures 12-feet long, 11-feet high and weighs 10,000 pounds -- artist Peter Hazel will be in attendance.
Throughout the festival's schedule, there are pumpkin carving demos, which are fascinating. Check out the parade to see this year's biggest and best pumpkins -- many of them reaching the size of a mid-sized car -- happening at noon on Saturday. Grand Marshall is baseball legend J.T. Snow, and there will be a line-up of creepy costumed ghouls and ghosts walking the parade. If you fancy yourself a competitive eater a la Joey Chestnut, there's a pie-eating contest for ages 12 and up following the parade, at 2:15 p.m. And if you've always wanted to wear a beret that is shaped like a pumpkin, this festival will make your dream come true.