Apparently, orange is the new black this year, and there is no better time to celebrate all things trendy than in Half Moon Bay.
The region is in its high-harvest season for one of its most famous bounties: pumpkins!
The Great Pumpkin has arrived
Monday, pumpkin season kicks off at 7 a.m. at the IDES Grounds on Main Street in downtown Half Moon Bay with the 38th annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. Here, veteran growers will contend for the title, the $5,000 world-record prize and $20,000 in additional prize money. In a pay-by-the-pound system, the winner will take home a $6 per pound for the champion mega-pumpkin. Defending champion Ron Root of Citrus Heights won last year’s weigh-off with a 1,535-pound Atlantic Giant. The grand champion mega-gourd will be on display at the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Main Street.
The festival, the traffic
Set to run next weekend, the 41st annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival is family-friendly, fun and so popular that spending the night is not a bad idea. The only thing not fun about it is the traffic; Half Moon Bay is only accessible by car — either via scenic U.S. Highway 1 or via state Route 92, which connects to Interstate 280. With free festival admission, it is a great excuse to splurge on a hotel room at one of the many inns or hotels in the area. For a complete list of hotels, visit www.visithalfmoonbay.org.
This year, the festival will include a lineup of rustic pumpkin patches that attendees can visit and pick your own pumpkin, harvest-inspired crafts, home-style foods, expert pumpkin carvers, the Great Pumpkin Parade, a haunted house, a pie-eating contest, pumpkin carving, costume contests, a pancake breakfast, 5- and 10-kilometer runs, and three stages of live music.
New this year is the iPumpkin, the official mobile application of the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival. Users of iPhones and iPads can download the application for free.
Also new this year, there will be a special hospitality station hosted by the Community United Methodist Church, 777 Miramontes St.
Harvest season for foodies
As fun as the festival is, visiting Half Moon Bay between now and Thanksgiving is a great way to enjoy local harvest — without the crowds.
- Beer aficionados can sample pumpkin ale at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, which is releasing its sixth annual Mavericks Harvest Pumpkin Ale. In addition, the brewpub will be offering throughout the fall-season pumpkin crab bisque, cheese ravioli with prawns in roasted creamy pumpkin sauce and homemade pumpkin pie and gingersnap crust pumpkin cheesecake. For more information, visit www.hmbbrewingco.com.
- Cheese lovers can visit Harley Farms, home to award-winning goat cheese, its special pumpkin-spice fromage blanc, a low-fat, creamy textured cheese available in the gift shop. Located just south of Half Moon Bay in Pescadero, Harley Farms also offers a two-hour, hands-on farm tour — reservations required — following the milk from goat to dairy, from curd to cheese. For more information, visit www.harleyfarms.com.
If you go
- Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off: Monday, weighing will take place from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Info: www.miramarevents.com.
- Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival: Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Main Street. Admission is free. Info: (650) 726-9652, www.miramarevents.com.
Pick-your-own pumpkin patches
- A. Repetto Nursery, 12331 San Mateo Road, (650) 726-6414
- Andreotti Family Farm, 329 Kelly Ave., (650) 726-9151
- Arata Pumpkin Farm, 185 Verde Road, (650) 726-7548, www.aratapumpkinfarm.com
- Bob’s Pumpkin Farm, Cabrillo Highway, five miles south of Half Moon Bay, (650) 726-4567
- Farmer John’s Pumpkin Farm, 850 North Cabrillo Highway, (650) 726-4980, www.farmerjohnspumpkins.com
- Lemos Family Farm, 12320 San Mateo Road, (650) 726-2342, www.lemosfarm.com
Visit a hand-blown art glass-pumpkin patch
More than a thousand glistening glass pumpkins will be available to view and purchase at the third annual Glass Pumpkin Patch Showcase and Sale presented by Half Moon Bay Art Glass. The event is happening today and Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at La Nebbia Winery in Half Moon Bay. For more information, visit www.hmbartglass.com.
A pumpkin spa treatment
The award-winning spa at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay is offering spa enthusiasts a deal during October: 25 percent off the signature Half Moon Bay facial (normally $245), a treatment that features a nourishing pumpkin enzyme mask and is a 100 percent natural, plant-based product. For more information, visit www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/HalfMoonBay/Spa.