Pumpkin Parties, East and West

Calabasas and Pomona pay happy homage to a certain seasonal squash.

IT'S GOURD GO-TIME: Look, we hate to put any kind of clock or stopwatch or ticking countdown on what should be an easygoing, family-fun, no-worry-no-hurry holiday season. The pressure to organize and purchase and decorate and enjoy is already intense enough from other corners, and we're not going to add to it. But there is a "but," and it is this: Halloween does have one clock of sorts, and no, it isn't about getting your costume in order. (Though that should really start to happen once the second half of the month arrives.) We're talking about the picking and buying of pumpkins here. If you wait for the 31st, or even Oct. 30, you may not get the pick-of-the-patch. Plus, should you be carving in the hours ahead of your Halloween trick-or-treating or party prep? Probably not. Meaning this: The weekend before the holiday, or even the weekend before that, is fine pumpkin-buying, pumpking-enjoying time. Which means that...

THE CALABASAS PUMPKIN FESTIVAL... is excellently scheduled as always. Pumpkins, pumpkin activities, pumpkin beer for the grown-ups, pumpkin salsa AND barbecue sauce (um, yum), and a pumpkin pie eating contest round out the pumpkin-haps. There shall be music and food for sale and other fest-y touches. Dates? Saturday, Oct. 19 and Sunday, Oct. 20. And, yep, you definitely know this, but it is worth adding here: Calabasas means pumpkin or squash. Of course they have to host one of the region's biggest squash-a-thons.

OF COURSE... there's always the Cal Poly Pomona Pumpkin Festival, which also falls on the same fall dates. The added creepy-crawly component with this one? An Insect Fair, which will have, wait for it, over a half million live insects. We'll just type that word again: live. Not dearly departed. Ohhh, so Halloween-y. It all happens at the Farm Store on University Drive in Pomona.

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