Free weekends are a rare and precious thing for our family. We're constantly carting our kids to soccer games, dance rehearsals, band performances, birthday parties, and Girl Scout campouts. When the stars align and we no events scheduled, more often than not we end up crashing on the couch, grateful to rest and watch TV and do nothing.
We're enjoying one of those free weekends right now -- but we're not staying home! Tomorrow we're making our annual pilgrimage to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. The festival is so popular, it brings huge crowds every year, which can be stressful and exhausting. We hate crowds, but we've found ways to manage the crowds and have the time of our lives. Here are five tips to help everyone make the most of the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival:
Arrive and leave early
Getting to and from Half Moon Bay from the Bay Area can be a nightmare, and it's not unheard of for a 30-minute driving stretching to 90 minutes during festival weekend. We were hesitant to go to the festival for years due to the traffic, but we've discovered that if you plan to arrive by 10:00AM and leave by 2:00PM, the traffic should be pretty light.
The temperatures at Half Moon Bay can vary widely. If past Pumpkin Festivals are anything to go by, it will be cold and foggy in the morning, then burning hot by mid-day. You can't enjoy the festival if you're shivering or roasting!
Bring a bag
You'll need a tote bag to carry your sweater, as all the awesome crafts you're going to end up buying. And if you're anything like me, you'll need a bag to carry some of the free samples that sponsors will be handing out (The best free sample we ever picked up at the festival? A loaf of Dave's Killer Cinnamon Bread. It made us fans for life!).
One of the things I love most about the HMB festival is the wide variety of crafts available for all budgets. Many arts and crafts fairs sell nothing but expensive paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and textiles. My kids get bored and we never seem to buy anything. This fair has EVERYTHING, from the high-end stuff to more affordable things like doll clothes, hats, tshirts, magnets, and toys. Many vendors take credit cards, but some have a minimum charge amount, so you may find yourself dying to take home a souvenir magnet but not having any way to pay for it. Also, most of the food stands only take cash.
Get into the spirit of the event
The festival isn't some snooty, high-society event. Everyone comes to have fun! Kids and grownups alike come in full costume, and you'll never see as many people wearing pumpkin berets and tacky Halloween sweaters as you'll see at the festival. Instead of being ridiculed, you'll be celebrated! So grab your pumpkin beret (or witch's hat) and be prepared to walk through haunted houses, buy kitschy souvenirs, pose in front of giant pumpkins, and devour anything with pumpkin as an ingredient.