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Pumpkin Festival Days

"When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!"

~ James Whitcomb Riley, When the Frost is On the Punkin, 1849 - 1916

This is the month for first frosts and fiery orange autumnal sunsets, which throw into the relief the many pumpkin patches with their flaming red, orange, and golden colours. This is also the season for pumpkin festivals, celebrations, and contests for pumpkin carving, pumpkin weighing, and even pumpkin throwing! These striking squash of the New World figure prominently in autumnal folklore, gaining literary prominence over time. Interestingly, the word “pumpkin” was first used in the classic fairy tale “Cinderella" in the 17th century - when Cinderella's fairy godmother turns a pumpkin into an enchanted carriage to take her to the ball. Prior to this time, French explorer Jacques Cretier, who had explored the St. Lawrence region, reported finding “gros melons” in 1584. In Latin, this became “pepon,” then translated into English as “pompions,” which evolved into the word “pumpkin.” Other famous and folkloric pumpkins include: the Peanuts comic strip "Great Pumpkin", the shattered pumpkin of the Headless Horseman from Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; Jack Pumpkinhead from Frank L. Baum's The Marvelous Land of Oz; and Feathertop, from Nathaniel Hawthorne's tale of the same name, featuring a bewitched scarecrow with a pumpkin head! And of course, the pumpkin became the preferred jack-o'-lantern carving vegetable of choice, particularly in the colonies, to frighten and ward off any roaming spirits with mal intent. Good Gourd! 🎃

This fiery tartan by Carol A.L. Martin with its contrasting cool deep blue hues, evokes the brilliant colours of an autumn sunset, particularly when the low-angled light of fall results in such brilliant intensities.

A time-honored Hallowe'en seasonal tradition in many households in the 20th century was to watch the annual televised special, "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," which debuted in October, 1966.

With an original and memorable score composed and performed by Vince Guaraldi, executive producer Lee Mendelson told The Washington Post that the sequence with Snoopy flying his doghouse was "one of the most memorable animated scenes ever." He also said that of all the Peanuts TV specials, "I believe It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is Bill Melendez’s animation masterpiece."

Modern traditions include a visit to your local pumpkin patch or pumpkin festival, which abound in the United States, in order to pick up a pumpkin or two for carving and seasonal decorating for Hallowe'en.   Often with adjoining corn mazes and lots of fun activities and pumpkin-flavoured treats and beverages, festivals can also include pumpkin carving, pumpkin weighing, or pumpkin throwing contests!

The coastal community of Half Moon Bay in California, the Pumpkin Capital of the World, hosts its annual festival, begun in 1970,  during this time.

According to their website, visitors can expect:

Massive, mind-boggling, Volkswagen-sized weigh-off champion pumpkins on display, the mesmerizing and remarkably talented “Picasso of pumpkin carvers” sculpting and shaping monster pumpkins into one-of-a-kind masterpieces, boo-tiful harvest-inspired crafts by America’s top artists, the Sunday-only “Made on the Coast” Locals’ Artists Block featuring fine art and live music, fabulously festive food and drink, the richest/creamiest/tastiest pumpkin pie on the planet, four stages of blockbuster entertainment, everyone’s favorite home-spun parade, the world’s largest mosaic pumpkin sculpture that measures 12-feet long, 11-feet high and weighs 10,000 pounds by artist Peter Hazel, enchanting events and contests for the whole family, playful and mischievous Pumpkin Festival mascot “Gourdy”, 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 extraordinary, not-to-be forgotten attractions!"

Bring back memories of childhood with the classic soundtrack of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" by clicking on "Sunset in the Pumpkin Patch" by photographer Lynn Bauer.

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