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41st annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival this weekend
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HALF MOON BAY  —  Ever wonder what “the other” pumpkin festival is like?

It’s this weekend in Half Moon Bay on California 1 along the San Mateo coast.

Autumn is a spectacularly special season on the fertile, scenic coast around Half Moon Bay. Magnificent vistas of seaside farm country dotted with vast, rolling fields of orange, scarecrows, barns, and pick-your-own pumpkin patches.

It’s the perfect time of year and the perfect place to celebrate the beauty and bounty of the fall season. The Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival is the season’s signature event, drawing hordes of visitors to the “World Pumpkin Capital” for an epic festival on historic Main Street. This year’s 41st annual Art & Pumpkin Festival will be held on Oct. 15-16 on Main Street from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Titanic, mind-boggling, Volkswagen-sized weigh-off champion pumpkins on display, the mesmerizing and remarkably talented “Picasso of pumpkin carvers” sculpting and shaping a monster 1,200+ pound pumpkin into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, harvest-inspired crafts by America’s top artists, the richest/creamiest/tastiest pumpkin pie on the planet, three stages of blockbuster entertainment, everyone’s favorite home-spun parade, enchanting events and contests for the whole family, the never-ending search for the Great Pumpkin, and a bumper crop of 3,000+ tons of the beloved orange orb waiting to be picked from one of the many rustic pumpkin patches around town are among the featured, not-to-be forgotten attractions. Plus the festival launches iPumpkin, the free, new official Pumpkin Festival mobile app available for Apple and Android devices.

There’s smashing entertainment on three stages featuring some of the Bay Area’s top bands. Performing on the IDES Main Stage are The California Cowboys, Bump City, Willie G, Jim Stevens & Friends, The Cocktail Monkeys, Lovefool, Extra Large, and Caravanserai. Holding down the Ritz-Carlton Gazebo Stage are Top Secret, Rockin’ Down the Hiway, Kaye Bohler and The Bay Area Heat. Street performers include phenomenal musicaL talents like Kaweh, HeartStrings Music, Emerson, Bob “Stickman” Culbertson and Jeffrey Michael.

The Family Stage features talented young performers Amber Lily and Jasmine Sagginario from Radio Disney’s “Next Big Thing”, the Radio Disney Road Crew’s high-energy, interactive show and the return of “Smashing Pumpkins: Battle of the Bands”.

Shop for one-of-a-kind handcrafted items by America’s finest artists and craftmakers while browsing among 250 booths featuring original work in glass, ceramics, metals, fiber, leather, wood, jewelry, and fine art. Half Moon Bay artist Ellen Joseph will debut her Pumpkin Festival fine art print, “Pumpkins By The Sea”, at this year’s festival. Enjoy popular events like pumpkin pie-eating contests, a Halloween costume contest, pumpkin carving for fun (no judging), Young Actors Workshop’s bone-chilling Haunted House, the Great Pumpkin Parade with a special appearance by The Cat, The Myth, The Legend Š Puss In Boots and cohort Kitty Softpaws from Paramount Pictures, a Pancake Breakfast, and the 5k & 10k Pumpkin Run. Get your picture taken with the grand champion mega-gourd for $14 to benefit the Cabrillo Education Foundation. Sports fans will have a place to watch NFL and college football and MLB playoff games on a giant LED screen in the Take 5 Lounge. It’s the perfect spot to take a break.

The festival is a fabulous feast famous for its homestyle dishes, with many featuring products from local farms. The sweet and spicy pumpkin, naturally, takes center stage: pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake rolls, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin churros and chicken pumpkin sausages, to name a few. Then there are coastal favorites like Brussels sprouts steeped in a zesty marinara sauce, and artichoke hearts steamed with an aromatic blend of garlic, olive oil, and herbs, plus traditional favorites like 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 sour dough bread bowls, crunchy nachos with jalapenos and cheese, hamburgers, grilled corn on the cob, garlic fries and huge baked potatoes with all the trimmings.