Aerial view of a pumpkin patch in Half Moon Bay, California
© Tinker Street/Michael O'Neal/Gallery Stoc
The height of pumpkin season. The height of pumpkin season
If you happen to be in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend, you might want to swing by the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival. The annual event displays enormous champion pumpkins weighing over a thousand pounds, hosts live pumpkin-carving demonstrations, and offers really every kind of pumpkin-related food you can imagine, from pies to pumpkin-flavored artisanal cocktails. Plus, Gourdy, the anthropomorphized pumpkin mascot. While California is the leader in the consumer pumpkin harvest, it is only the second-largest producer in the country. Illinois grows approximately a quarter of the 2 billion pounds of pumpkins the US produces yearly, though 80 percent of that ends up as pie filling or other processed products. Pumpkins require between 90-120 days to mature, so most are planted by late May or early June to coincide with our Halloween carving needs.
While carving vegetables into faces is a tradition in many parts of the world, the carving of jack-o'-lanterns around Halloween originated in Ireland in the mid-19th century, using potatoes or turnips. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to the US around the same time and discovered that the native pumpkins were much easier to carve.