CPP hosts second annual preview night for Pumpkin Fest

By Alexander Novoa and Joseph Rodriguez, Oct. 10, 2023

The Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture hosted its second annual Cal Poly Pomona Pumpkin Fest Preview Night Friday, Sept. 29, welcoming a crowd of CPP students, alumni, and other members of the Pomona community to enjoy food, drinks and participate in Halloween-themed activities.

More than 100 guests aged 21 and over attended the event to raise proceeds for CPP students from the Huntley College of Agriculture, helping enhance the college’s Dean’s Excellence Fund. The $80 ticket included food tasting, fun activities, live entertainment and award-winning beer and wine.

Over 20 food vendors participated, including local restaurants Basil & Co, Tom’s Tailgate and Native Fields. Vendors provided samples of diverse food options, including barbecue, Mexican and vegan dishes. Desserts were also featured, including CPP’s new ice cream.

Lani Fox, owner of Rosemallow Artisanal, passed out gourmet marshmallows made with farm ingredients grown at CPP.

“I make these very special artisanal confections,” Fox said. “There’s nothing that exists in the food market like them. They’re what I call ‘beyond scratch’ because I grow and make everything for them. I actually use Cal Poly produce for them. They’re very complex, sophisticated desserts that literally change flavor as you eat them. It’s so fun.” 

This was Fox’s second year participating in the preview night. She offered six unique flavors and mentioned that she regularly communicates with the CPP farm store to see what produce can be highlighted when creating enjoyable flavors for her marshmallow treats.

The Storytellers, a progressive bluegrass band, provided live entertainment that included country blues and folk music for guests as they danced the night away to the tune of food and drinks.

The Storytellers performing at preview night | Alexander Novoa

CPP’s Innovation Brew Works and Horsehill Vineyards provided their award-winning beer and wine. 

Joseph Torrecillas, a CPP alumnus in international business and marketing, served different varieties of wine to guests and also featured a new rosé.

“We have three wines that we’re featuring tonight,” Torrecillas said. “The red blend that’s going to feature three grapes. Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Then the rosé, which is the one that we’re featuring most because it’s pretty new — bottled new, really delicious. Very sweet. Our fan favorite — always gonna be our red blend, but they’re all delicious.”

Innovation Brew Works’ craft beers were also a hit throughout the event. Guests at the preview night received a special CPP Pumpkin Fest glass upon arrival so that they could try all the new drinks. 

All around the festival there were drink stations to try a variety of ales such as the heavily featured PumpkinFest Ale that debuted at the event and a new orange juice-flavored hard seltzer, the Study Buddy. Another drink that gained popularity was the spicy lime ale because of its light kick and unique taste. 

The event brought back former students to campus and even people who had no affiliation with CPP that just wanted to experience what the university had to offer. There was a welcoming energy throughout the night as people came together to enjoy great food and drinks. 

“I came here last year and I had a really good time, so I was like, ‘why don’t I come back next year?’” said Rianna Hernandez-Thorn, a CPP alumna. “The food is great, the drinks are great and just good vibes overall.” 

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the CPP Pumpkin Festival. This event has a history of being the campus’ most attended events with about 120,000 visitors each year according to the CPP website.

The CPP Pumpkin Festival is currently underway and will run until Oct. 29. The event costs $10 for adults and $8 dollars for children along with discounted rates every Friday. The Pumpkin Fest days and times are Friday through Sunday from 10am to 7pm.  

Feature image courtesy of Alexander Novoa

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