8 Pumpkin Festivals and Events Across the Country
The Great Jack-O'-Lantern Blaze
Held at the historic Van Cortlandt Manor, The Great Jack-O’-Lantern Blaze features more than 7,000 glowing, hand-carved jack-o’-lanterns displayed in a variety of arrangements. You’ll find dinosaurs, sea creatures, the Statue of Liberty and a carousel that actually spins. Don’t miss a stroll down the Pumpkin Zee Bridge, and check out the color-changing star show in the Pumpkin Planetarium. All of this autumnal magic is set to an original soundtrack by recording artist Richard Christy.
World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off
Half Moon Bay, Calif.
The Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off brings together the world’s best pumpkin growers and their gargantuan gourds. Using forklifts and special harnesses, the pumpkins are weighed on an industrial scale, and a winner is declared. The 2017 champion, Joel Holland (pictured), broke the American record with his 2,363-pound behemoth – the second-heaviest pumpkin ever grown worldwide. His prize was a whopping $16,541 ($7 per pound). This annual event kicks off the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, where the four heaviest pumpkins are put on display.
The Pumpkin Festival
Since it started in 1991, the Keene Pumpkin Festival has set the world record eight times for the most lit jack-o’-lanterns in one place; local businesses, schools and residents all take part to make it happen. After admiring the spectacular pumpkin displays, other can’t-miss activities include pumpkin bowling, dance performances and a children’s costume parade.
Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta
There’s lots to enjoy at the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta – held each year over Columbus Day weekend – including a Pumpkin Catapult, a Pumpkin Derby and a Giant Pumpkin Drop. The closing event is the Pumpkin Regatta, in which competitors race across the Damariscotta Harbor in boats made from 400- to 700-pound pumpkins. There are two divisions: paddleboats and powerboats. In the latter contest, the pumpkin boats are actually outfitted with 5-10 HP outboard motors.
The Great Pumpkin Carve
Chadds Ford, Pa.
More than 60 local artists, both amateur and professional, take part in The Great Pumpkin Carve, a yearly event held at the Chadds Ford Historical Society. On the first night, visitors can watch the carvers at work while they sculpt, saw and chisel giant pumpkins – some weighing up to 400 pounds. The pumpkins, which are lit by candles and put on display the second and third nights of the event, are judged in categories such as Best Overall, Most Original and Best Use of Pumpkin. Beyond the carving competition, visitors can also enjoy hayrides, pumpkin painting, live music and more.
The Great Pumpkin Beer Festival
Sample 80+ pumpkin beers (plus a few surprises) at The Great Pumpkin Beer Festival, hosted by Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Company. Held at Seattle Center in 2017, the event’s centerpiece is an enormous, several-hundred-pound pumpkin that’s hollowed out, filled with Elysian pumpkin beer and tapped for all to enjoy. Guests are encouraged to come dressed in orange or even in costume to compete in the costume contest.
Ceredo and Kenova, W.V.
Held across two quaint West Virginia communities, the C-K AutumnFest offers loads of family-friendly fun throughout the last weekend in October. The highlight of the event is the Pumpkin House, a beautiful Victorian home decorated with 3,000 hand-carved pumpkins. Other activities include an old-fashioned bake-off, an arts and crafts show, a scarecrow contest and a parade.
Autumn at the Arboretum
Come fall, the Dallas Arboretum transforms into a spectacular Pumpkin Village, featuring more than 90,000 artfully displayed pumpkins, gourds and squash, as well as hay bales, cornstalks and thousands of fall blooms. Autumn at the Arboretum's 2017 theme is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, so guests can meander through Pumpkin Village on an actual yellow brick road dotted with vignettes inspired by Dorothy and her adventures. Check the Arboretum’s calendar for other events that you can enjoy in conjunction with the fall displays, from concerts to a Day of the Dead celebration.