Come fall, giant pumpkin weigh-offs are a tradition all across the country. What do you do with these gargantuan gourds after the big event? Do you bake a thousand pies? Carve a jack-o-lantern that’ll illuminate the entire neighborhood? Turns out pumpkins float. This discovery, credited to Wayne Hackney by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, led to the creation of a new autumn tradition, pumpkin boat regattas.
Coast-to-coast “squash-bucklers” hollow out these behemoths and head to the harbor to race for glory —and the chance to be crowned as the top pumpkin pilot.
Here are a few pumpkin fests coming up:
Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta
Columbus Day Weekend, October 10–13, Damariscotta, Maine
This family oriented festival attracts more than 15,000 visitors to Maine’s coastal town of Damariscotta. One if its highlights is the Pumpkinboat Regatta, which features more than a dozen 400-700 pound, hollowed-out pumpkins with motors attached or paddled, raced in the nearby harbor. Pumpkin boat building takes place Saturday and Sunday, October 11 and 12, and the Pumpkinboat Regatta is set to launch on Monday, October 13.
Stillwater Harvest Fest
Sunday, October 12, Stillwater, Minnesota
Judged the 2nd biggest giant pumpkin festival in the world in 2013, Stillwater’s Harvest Fest is an entirely volunteer run community event. Weekend activities include giant pumpkin weigh offs, kids’ pumpkin pull, giant pumpkin drop, and the Pumpkin Regatta on Sunday.
11th Annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta
Saturday, October 18, Tualitin Oregon
Enjoy the spectacle as costumed captains test their skills and the seaworthiness of their squash. This annual event has grown into one of Oregon’s most popular fall traditions.
4th Annual Ginormous Pumpkin Regatta
Saturday, October 18, Salt Lake City, Utah
Despite its title, this event isn’t limited to giant pumpkins—guidelines are to craft a vessel of “mostly pumpkins.”
Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off & Regatta
Saturday, October 18, Goffstown, New Hampshire
The Giant Pumpkin Regatta in Goffstown caps off a weekend full of gourd-related fun, featuring pumpkin carving, pumpkin sling-shot contest, a pumpkin cook-off, and giant pumpkin drop.