Pilgrims learned to cultivate, grow and store pumpkins from the Native Americans. Without them, they would have starved in those early 1600s winters. Pumpkin pie is traditionally served at the Thanksgiving meal. It’s easy to forget what a significant role it played in the early Pilgrim’s lives.
We have a number of pumpkin festivals and pumpkin “patches” in our community. We attended many of them when our boys were young, and were sorry when a few closed to make room for development.
The immensely popular Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, dubbed the World Pumpkin Capital celebrates 42 years in 2012. The festival highlight for those of us serious about pumpkins, is the great pumpkin weigh-off. Last year’s winning pumpkin tipped the scales at a mind-boggling 1,704 pounds. Unfortunately, the festival has grown so popular that it can take upwards of an hour to get to the center of town. We joined friends for an off weekend last year, so we could drive through Half Moon Bay and along the beautiful coast, while avoiding the traffic nightmare.
I dream of growing our own “Atlantic Giant,” out back, but lack the stamina and will power of the serious growers. It’s fun to read about the efforts the hard-core growers employ, and to see the amazing results. It was quite the thrill growing a 62 pound beauty this year.
I can’t wait to see what the seeds and flesh are like inside. My husband lovingly carves our pumpkins year after year. We dry and store seeds for the following season and the cycle begins anew.
- Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, watermelons and zucchini.
- The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in 2005 and weighed 2,020 pounds.
- In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding “gros melons.” The name was translated into English as “pompions,” which has since evolved into the modern “pumpkin.”
- Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.
- The heaviest pumpkin weighed 1,810 lb 8 oz and was presented by Chris Stevens at the Stillwater Harvest Fest in Stillwater, Minnesota, in October 2010.
- Pumpkin seeds should be planted between the last week of May and the middle of June. They take between 90 and 120 days to grow and are picked in October when they are bright orange in color. Their seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins the next year.
U.S. Census Bureau and the Guinness Book of World Records
- Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival
- All About Pumpkins (History)
- Pumpkin Facts
- The Charles Schultz Classic, It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, premiered 45 years ago.
- Our own pumpkins over the years