THE TIME IS NOW: Few fruits have what basically amounts to an entire month devoted to their round, smooth, and stem-topped superstardom. Oh, for sure, the strawberry has its weekend-long parties around the Golden State, and the avocado, too (yep, it's a fruit, let's not quibble), but, for the most part, our produce aisle items don't appear, and then pretty much disappear, with a splash, all over the course of a few weeks. The weighty exception to that, of course, is the pumpkin, the one edible we like to draw faces upon, and scary faces at that. Sure, you could probably sniff out a gourd with some intrepid footwork outside of the fall -- and they're pretty dang easy to grow -- but you need to be in the heart of October to understand, and embrace, the full-on merry madness that is pumpkin time. Southern California's out-sized pumpkin festivals and patches and lots'll be done, done, done in just about a fortnight's time, so if you want to take a photo of your tot sitting in an orange-y sea of 'em, or buy a few for carving, the time is now. Lucky you, then, that two of the big festivals are landing in the days ahead, meaning Saturday, Oct. 18 and Sunday, Oct. 19.
CAL POLY POMONA PUMPKIN FESTIVAL: Hello, sweet and furry petting zoo. Hello, get delightfully lost corn maze. And hello, ever-well-attended Insect Fair, the buggy centerpiece of this 22-year-long autumn extravaganza. Lots of attendees come to mainly look at the many-legged stars of the day, but if you want to revel in pumpkin-o-sity, you will find much pumpkin-o-sity to play in. It's free, though there's an admission fee for the Insect Fair. Buzz buzz buzz.
CALABASAS PUMPKIN FESTIVAL: Food, tunes, pumpkin beer, pumpkin painting, and a patch to wander in -- and buy from -- mark this long-runner. The site points out something we all know but is worth sharing with our friends or kids in the car over: Calabasas is a moniker springing from the Spanish word for gourd/pumpkin. Where better to get your fall fruit fun on than in its namesake town?