16th Pumpkin Fest draws thousands

By Cielestia Calbay

The pumpkins came first and the fun followed afterwards.

A sea of thousands of pumpkins cascading down acres of green
pastures set the stage for the university’s 16th annual pumpkin
festival held Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in front of
the Farm Store.

From sunrise to sunset, thousands of guests turned out for the
two-day traditional fete, despite the 80-degree temperature.

Students, staff, local and distant communities gathered into one
place to pay homage to the great orange gourd in a county fair-type
ambiance.

For Dana Point resident Bernice Francisco, the 50-mile trip was
worth the drive.

“I’d heard about the trip from my nephew who was a former
student here,” said Francisco. “I’ve been to [pumpkin] festivals
before, but this one certainly takes it up a notch.”

For some individuals, this was not their first time visiting the
pumpkin festival, but it made a delightful first impression for
many others.

“I’ve been a student here for the past four years, and I’ve
never been to the festival once,” said Melissa Saldana, a fifth
year biology student. “I’m glad I was able to go this year – I
didn’t know it offered so many things.”

The festival kicked off with a morning pancake breakfast where
guests enjoyed hot flapjacks, sausage, coffee and juice.

Beach boardwalk music, disco favorites and classic hits played
in the background as couples, friends and families relaxed on
haystacks, took snapshots and ventured from one booth to
another.

Veteran guests came prepared with wagons and mini tractors to
haul pumpkins they picked right out of the patch, which ranged from
50 cents to $65.

The pumpkins were grown and harvested by students and staff on
university-owned land in Chino, and were delivered by the truckload
to the university.

“Picking pumpkins at Cal Poly has become a family tradition for
us,” said Katherine Everly of San Dimas. “We like going to this
festival because it has something for everyone, no matter how old
you are.”

Crowds also swarmed to AGRIscapes for the annual Insect Fair,
which was held in unison with the festival and hosted by the
Agricultural Biology Club.

The College of Agriculture’s student clubs entertained guests of
all ages by offering an array of family-friendly activities such as
a giant slide, skeeball, hay maze, pumpkin bag toss and pony
rides.

However, the longest line was not for any of these
activities.

Crowds spanned for yards to stand in line for the festival’s
most popular staple – kettle corn.

The festival turned into its own food fair, as guests enjoyed a
variety of edible treats, from pumpkin pie to spicy hot dogs,
pastrami sandwiches and smoked gouda popcorn.

Local businesses like Dr. Bob’s Handcrafted Ice Cream also
joined in on the festivities by offering their own specialties.

Dr. Bob’s Handcrafted Ice Cream was created by Dr. Robert Small,
a former Cal Poly professor.

All proceeds from the festival go toward the College of
Agriculture’s student club activities and farm operations within
the college.

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