Out of an abundance of caution for the spread of COVID, the city council of Half Moon Bay voted this week to deny a special event permit to the annual pumpkin festival. Organizers now say they need a benefactor to step in to save the day.
Even though Napa just welcomed a 100,000 or so people to party at BottleRock last weekend, and come Halloween San Francisco plans to do the same with Outside Lands, Half Moon Bay officials say they can't in good conscience host the town's Art & Pumpkin Festival — which this year had been scaled down to the HMB Pumpkin Mini Fest and was scheduled to happen on one day, October 16.
"It’s a sad decision,” said Mayor Robert Brownstone during a Tuesday city council meeting. "I, in good faith, can’t vote to have this event if I can’t feel like we can really ensure the safety of all the attendees."
As KPIX reports, the council voted unanimously to call off the festival for the second year running, even though it's outdoors, and even though it was slated to require masks and host a pop-up vaccination station, and even though 92% of San Mateo County residents aged 12 and up having received at least one dose of a vaccine.
The council also called off the Summer’s End Music Festival, which was set to take place in John L. Carter Park on September 25.
The Half Moon Bay Beautification Committee, which organizes the annual pumpkin fest, had already scaled back their plans — the festival typically takes place over a whole weekend, and this was just going to be a Thursday event on October 16.
Now, all that will take place will be the 48th annual Pumpkin Weigh-Off, on Monday morning, October 11. Pumpkin growers from across the country typically travel to the Bay Area to participate for a Safeway-sponsored grand prize of $30,000, hauling their enormous gourds. The weigh-off also took place in 2020, without an audience.
This year, the big grand prize only gets awarded if a pumpkin breaks the world record for largest pumpkin — otherwise, first prize in the contest is awarded at $9 per pound of pumpkin.
In 2019, a Napa grower set the state record for largest pumpkin, weighing in at 2,175 pounds. This year that would garner a $19,575 prize.
The largest pumpkin ever to arrive at the weigh-off was in 2017, when a Washington grower won with a 2,400-pound beast.
That still didn't beat the world record, which was set a year earlier in Belgium, when grower Mathias Willemijns turned in a 2,624.6-pound pumpkin.
And for those looking for some seasonal pumpkin patch fun — it is, after all, decorative gourd season, motherfuckers — the Bay Area is home to quite a few for your pumpkin-picking pleasure, including those in Half Moon Bay.
But if you go buy yours too early, they're just going to be rotten by Halloween...
Photo courtesy of Half Moon Bay Beautification Committee