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Pumpkins roll into Half Moon Bay

39th annual pumpkin & art festival set this weekend

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Pumpkins roll into Half Moon Bay

Farmer Mike carves pumpkin masterpieces during the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival

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POSTED October 13, 2009 2:13 a.m.

HALF MOON BAY - Every year when autumn rolls around, the picturesque coast around Half Moon Bay bursts into brilliant orange and buzzes with boisterous activity in celebration of its bountiful fall harvest. The Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival is the season’s big event, bringing huge throngs of visitors to the “World Pumpkin Capital” for a world-class festival on historic Main Street. This year’s 39th festival will be held on Oct.  17-18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Festivalgoers will be mesmerized by the remarkable “Picasso of pumpkin carvers” sculpting and shaping a monster 1,000+-pound pumpkin, a special display of massive weigh-off champion pumpkins, three stages of blockbuster entertainment, everyone’s favorite home-spun parade, harvest-inspired crafts, the tastiest pumpkin pie on earth, enchanting events and contests for the whole family, and the never-ending search for the Great Pumpkin waiting to be picked at one of the rustic pumpkin patches dotting the coast.

There’s a smashing lineup of entertainment on three stages including Chicago-born bluesman Terry Hanck, The Unauthorized Rolling Stones, Classic Latin rock band Mestizo, country stalwarts California Cowboys, reggae/world-beat band Lakay & Mystic Man, cover band Tall Shadows, folksinger Jim Stevens and harmonica blues great John Nemeth on the Main Stage with the Mike Rossi Band, Bluestate, Big Crawdaddy and Frankie’s Dream holding down the South Stage. The Family Stage features Cowgirl Tricks and shenanigans by Karen Quest, juggling, comedy, unicycling and magic by the incomparable Grinn & Barrett, and The Golden Gourds, a youth talent show. Street performers include Heart Strings Music, Emerson, Bob “Stickman” Culbertson and Fat Chance Belly Dance

Shop for one-of-a-kind handcrafted items by America’s finest artists and craft makers while browsing among 250 booths featuring original work in glass, ceramics, metals, fiber, leather, wood, jewelry, and fine art. Enjoy popular events and activities like pumpkin pie eating contests, a Halloween costume contest, pumpkin carving for fun (no judging), Young Actors Workshop’s bone-chilling Haunted House, the FedEx Great Pumpkin Parade, a Pancake Breakfast, and the 5k & 10k Pumpkin Run. Up and down the street, visitors can watch world-class pumpkin carver “Farmer Mike” demonstrate his unparalleled carving skill transforming giant pumpkins into one-of-a-kind sculptures, test their mountaineering skills on Mobile Rock’s climbing wall, concoct their very own colorful wax hands, stop by for creative facial designs at the High School Art Department’s face painting booth, and visit Kiddieland for amusement rides.

 The festival is a fabulous feast famous for its home style dishes, with many featuring product from local farms. The sweet and spicy pumpkin, naturally, take center stage: pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake rolls, pumpkin cheesecake, giant pumpkin cookies, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin caramel apples and chicken pumpkin sausages, to name a few. Enjoy coastal favorites like Brussel sprouts steeped in a zesty marinara sauce, and artichoke hearts steamed with an aromatic blend of garlic, olive oil, and herbs. Feast on Portuguese linguisa sausage, hot beef sandwiches, corn dogs, fried calamari, roasted turkey legs, chicken and beef tamales, macaroni and cheese with pumpkin seeds, garlic fries, steamy clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls, crunchy nachos with jalapenos and cheese, hamburgers, grilled corn on the cob, garlic fries, warm pretzels with pumpkin sauce and huge baked potatoes with all the trimmings.

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