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By Aaliyah Murillo and Amanda Coscarelli, Oct. 19, 2021

Cal Poly Pomona’s Pumpkin Festival celebrated 28 years of production on Oct. 2 —after canceling the event in 2020— through an opening ceremony to kickstart the festival, featuring up to 40,000 pumpkins grown on campus and the newborn lamb Oreo.

The festival opened its gates at 10 a.m. and had a total of 7,500 ticket sales. To limit the number of attendees per day, the event remains open on Saturdays and Sundays from Oct. 2 through Oct. 31. Guests can greet livestock in their petting zoo, take a tour around the Huntley College of Agriculture through a hayride and get lost in both the corn maze and the smaller children’s corn maze.

The Pumpkin Festival features a petting zoo. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Coscarelli)

Groups of guests could be seen crossing the street on Temple Avenue toward the Huntley College of Agriculture with strollers while some were leaving the festival with wagons full of pumpkins. Many attendees lined up to eat Robertson Roasted Almonds and drink root beer floats, while children held custom balloon animals and sported face paint from the clown booth. The cow-milking demonstration showed everyone how to milk udders properly, and children giggled as they rolled their selected pumpkins down the hill to make their purchases.

Following COVID-19 guidelines, guests wore masks and the festival provided ample hand washing and sanitizer stations, which were refilled regularly and sanitized throughout the event. During the ceremony, COVID-19 protocols were initiated by having routine cleanings of the podium and microphone in between speakers.

Lia Quintanilla, a hospitality student, returned as a volunteer for her third year. She explained the pandemic did not limit any attractions at this year’s festival.

The festival incorporates a new attraction, the night maze, which offers a spookier version of the regular corn maze in the dark. This attraction is ideal for teens and young adults, but not suitable for young children. The festival also included unique activities for children such as a moo-moo train, dress-a-scarecrow, children’s pumpkin patch and a children’s garden.

President Soraya Coley led the opening ceremony with a few remarks. “We as a community… we had to get through (the pandemic) together,” said Coley. “We’re still dealing with it, but we also didn’t want to lose any sense of community, and these are the kinds of things that bring us together.”

Martin Sancho-Madriz, interim dean of the Huntley College of Agriculture, introduced invited elected officials to the ceremony which included, State Sen. Josh Newman, who represents California’s 29th Senate District, Miguel Garcia-Ramos, from the office of Congresswoman Norma Torres, and a representative from State Sen. Susan Rubio’s office. Coley and the Huntley College of Agriculture received three certificates: a state senate certificate, a certificate of special congressional recognition and a certificate of recognition.

In his speech, Newman said, “I have two California State Universities in my district, and I know I am among friends today, so I want you to know, I don’t really like the other one very much. I prefer this one a whole lot more.” Newman represents both CPP and Cal State Fullerton.

CPP is the only CSU campus hosting a community-wide pumpkin festival.

(Photo courtesy of Amanda Coscarelli)

Guests were delighted to be back as they welcomed Oreo, the lamb born during the pandemic, cheering “We love you Oreo!” with an eagerness to greet him at the petting zoo.

Steven Chan, a community member, was happy to return after two years.

“I got really great pictures of my son (in 2019), so I’m looking forward to taking more this year,” said Chan. Dozens of families and friends gathered near the plethora of bright orange pumpkins for a photo opportunity.

The festival will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays with free online reservations, but only the corn maze and pumpkin patch will be available. Tickets to the Pumpkin Festival are only available for purchase online.

General admission tickets start at $5, and bundles start at $16. Beginning Oct. 8, the event will include “Friday Fright Special,” priced at $9 for admission and entry to the night maze, and a “Saturday Spooky Special” priced at $11 for admission after 5 p.m. and entry to the night maze.

There are special ticket prices for CPP staff, faculty and students as well. Tickets for those with CPP identification are $4 on Fridays and $6 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Featured image courtesy of Amanda Coscarelli. 

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