Return to Oz.

Some of my favourite childhood books featured pumpkins: the obvious being Cinderella and then there’s Charlie Brown (for the purposes of this discussion a comic is a book).

But my absolute favourite would have to be PumpkinHead from Return to Oz. You know, the one where Dorothy gets electro-shock therapy. He’s unbalanced, a bunch of twigs holding up a giant pumpkin of a face. Sweet and uncertain all at the same time. He should be scary, but he’s not even close.

Poor things, struggling under the weight of expectation.

So there was no way that I’d miss the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to see monstrously outsized vegetables, consume deep fried everything (except I didn’t – a fail on my part), and watch Americans dance to country and western bands.

I’ve been to three US fairs so far, and I can see a delightful pattern forming. I imagine the organisers sitting around a table with a checklist that reads:

It sounds like I’m making fun, but I am not at all. Every single one of these things are what makes America. If you want to buy some weird jewelry that looks like a piece of rusty twisted metal that’s been hit with a sledgehammer, go to a fair! Maybe you’d rather an entire wall of 3D stained glass? Get yourself to fair land! And then the actual stall owners are America’s answer to Australian carnies, except upper class. It’s the perfect place to spot a man in a vest and cowboy hat. With three teeth.

You just won’t find these people elsewhere

And then there is the food. Not just the usual hot dogs or hamburgers or pizza either. There’s Clam Chowder in a hollowed-out loaf of bread and for the protein lovers out there, please enjoy a dinosaur-turkey leg. But my absolute favourite thing would have to be the eating-contests. Turn something into a competition and I’ll be there, front and centre, watching the action. These kids knew what was expected of them: Head down and smash your face into that pumpkin pie and whipped cream like everyone’s watching and cheering you on.

Speaking of competitions we’ve come to the gigantic vegetable portion of the day. Granted, I’ve only seen this once so far, but I’m willing to put money on the fact that it won’t be the last time. Farmer Mike here is my new hero. Anyone who can carve the Red Baron into a pumpkin gets my vote.

I wanted to nick Farmer Mike’s overalls.
And so we come to the end of an awesome festival. As long as you don’t count the soul-destroying traffic on the way home.

**Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of these links you don’t pay a cent more, but I receive a small commission, that is put towards the running of this blog.