Saturday, October 17, 2015

45th Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival

     Judging from the early crowds at Saturday's HMB Art & Pumpkin Festival, I think the word is out that Half Moon Bay has the best annual festival in the Bay Area. And no wonder. From the moment you see those first pumpkin patches peeking out from the trees on the drive to Half Moon Bay, the experience is like stepping into an enchanted story where all your autumn dreams come true. There are over 200 vendors, many of which sell pumpkin-themed items (don't forget to grab a famous blown-glass pumpkin!). And you can enjoy pumpkin-flavored everything (the ice cream is delish!), watch Farmer Mike carving elaborate pumpkin masterpieces, watch street performances, set your kids loose in the family and kids area, and pick out pumpkins afterwards at one of the many pumpkin patches.
     You can read my previous post on the pumpkin festival here, which includes tips on how best to experience the festival, but here's a recap of this year's visit. In the five years I've enjoyed the pumpkin festival, I think this year was the busiest. In my previous post I advised festival goers to start out early to beat the traffic, but even early birds experienced traffic this year. I arrived in Half Moon Bay at 7:20 and had to wait in line to get a parking spot. Groups of people were already walking down main to the heart of the festival, which didn't start until 9 a.m. By 10:30 a.m., the walkways beside the vendors were so packed it was hard to move around. By the time I left at around noon, most parking lots were full. So getting there early, painful as it might be, is a must if you want a pumpkin hangover and not a traffic migraine.
     I also advised in my previous post to park on the lot on Highway 92 closest to Main Street for a quick getaway. However, this year I parked on Main street a longer walk away. This saved me about $10 in parking, and it was still an easy getaway. The highway is a parking lot later in the day with people trying to get into the festival, so keep this in mind when choosing parking. I wouldn't choose a lot that would require you to pass through incoming traffic to leave.
     I also provided photos of all the delicious pumpkin things you can drink and eat at the festival in my previous post, but this year I tried a couple new things. The pumpkin harvest ale I chose had a smooth finish, but I wasn't too fond of the flavor. The pumpkin chili, however, far exceeded my expectations. I definitely could have enjoyed another bowl.
     One exciting new feature of the festival that I didn't mention in my previous post is the activities a charming shop called Oddyssea offers in their Oddyssea Outside space. Last year, my sister made a mason jar terrarium in this carnival-type area that provides a nice break from the flow of the crowd. This year, people could make steam punkins, pearl necklaces, sand art, and mine for treasure. To participate you just buy doubloons from a stand and trade them to do your activity of choice.
     This year my sister and I also enjoyed a street performance by Orion Griffiths, who starred in Pippin. Griffiths' personality and humor drew us in, but his physical prowess and acrobatic performance amazed us. While balancing on multiple levels of boards, cups, and a tube, Griffiths juggled three pins and performed a handstand. You can follow Griffiths on Twitter (@Orion_Griffiths), and there's also a few videos on Youtube that show his amazing skill (like this one of him performing at Pier 39 in SF).
     I've posted photos from this year's event so you can get a sense of the fun. If you love pumpkins, fall, Halloween, or festivals, Half Moon Bay combines all of them into my favorite Bay Area event. Treat yourself to this Bay Area Miss-Me-Not.

Start your day right with the Pancake Breakfast (7 a.m. to 11 a.m.). Great way to kill time after arriving early and make your tummy happy.

Pumpkin pancakes from the Pumpkin Breakfast. YUM.

Don't forget the freebies! This bag was handed out at the Safeway booth.

Oddyssea Outside
Should we make steam punkins or sand art?!

That sand art is lookin' mighty fine.
Mason jar terrarium from last year.

Official gear? Check!

Pumpkin Harvest Ale

Pumpkin Chili

Orion Griffiths drawing a crowd.

Baby chicks from one of the local feed stores. Don't forget the extra shopping the charming little businesses on Main offer!

Giant bubbles, small bubbles...Half Moon Bay's got 'em.

And now...the pumpkins.

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