This California festival celebrates the wild world of pumpkins and the people who love them.

October 24, 2018

Pumpkins may have their roots in ancient Central and South America, but they’ve been on a world tour for millennia. As people traveled with seeds, cultures across six continents adopted this member of the Cucurbitaceae family and cultivated their own local varieties. Today, one event brings together the international community of pumpkin growers: The National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa, CA.

The expo—which showcases over 4,000 kinds of heirloom crops, pumpkins, and other squash—even presents a two-story squash tower. But more striking than anything is the sheer variety on display. Local schoolkids and farmers gather alongside pumpkin aficionados from Hawaii, Yugoslavia, and Peru. Bumpy or striped, pocket-size or so big they require a pickup truck, pumpkins are clearly citizens of the world.

Along with the pumpkin tower, highlights of the expo include an official pumpkin weigh-off, a dahlia show of spectacular blooms, and plenty of squash for touching and tasting. Have you ever wondered what a squash from Hawaii tastes like? Now's your chance. The event also doesn't support GMOs, assuring that the plants you see are as pure as ever.

Although this year's event has passed, there's always the opportunity to attend next year. Keep an eye on National Heirloom Expo's website for next year's dates.


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