The Best Bites From the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

[Photographs: Trevor Felch]

The small, isolated town of Half Moon Bay, California, is best known for two things. First, it's constantly enveloped in a thick, chilly fog that that's beautiful, if not exactly conducive to Pacific swims.

It is also The World Pumpkin Capital

With a title like that, the pressure is on when it comes to celebrating Halloween. Fortunately, Half Moon Bay knows how to throw a party.

With the big holiday less than two weeks away, the 43rd Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival took place over the weekend, with over 200,000 people descending upon the town of 11,324. The star of the festival was the "Great Pumpkin," the massive weigh-off winner from Napa (apparently they grow more than grapes there), which clocked in at 1,965 pounds. I can't even begin to do the math of how many pumpkin pies that translates to.

Of course, with this being a pumpkin festival, the autumnal flavor appeared in several edible forms. There were the usual suspects, like pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread, but also plenty of unique savory spins, including pumpkin seeds and powder on macaroni and cheese, along with a pumpkin curry-smothered baked potato. Consider that the "Halloween Works." The Half Moon Bay Brewing Company provided the pumpkin beer, and for better or worse, there were pumpkin margaritas being shaken and served.

Baked pumpkin goods proved to be the day's winners. I couldn't stop tearing at a beautiful, moist pumpkin muffin studded with walnuts and raisins, or a carrot cake-pumpkin- cinnamon roll hybrid that was simply called a "pumpkin roll." And I might have been persuaded that pumpkin serves as a superior soft pretzel dip to mustard.

Click through the slideshow to check out the many pumpkin-filled treats at the Pumpkin Festival.