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    Photo: Cheyenne Thorpe/OPB

The West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta: What Can’t This Gourd Do?


The 2019 West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta attracted thousands from around the nation as the massive vegetables were transformed into boats and raced around Tualatin Lake.

Autumn is the season in which we honor the versatility of the pumpkin.

We eat them, we carve them, we dress like giant squids and race across a lake in them. This weekend, the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta saw all of the above.

Thousands of attendees came from around the nation to cheer on the giant pumpkin racers.

Thousands of attendees came from around the nation to cheer on the giant pumpkin racers.

Cheyenne Thorpe/OPB

During the 2019 West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta members of the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers club hollowed out their homegrown vegetables and raced around the lake.

During the 2019 West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta members of the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers club hollowed out their homegrown vegetables and raced around the lake.

Cheyenne Thorpe/OPB

As crowds gathered around the lake, the pumpkin growers prepped and decorated their veggie boats. 

As crowds gathered around the lake, the pumpkin growers prepped and decorated their veggie boats. 

Cheyenne Thorpe/OPB

Held at the Tualatin Lake of the Commons, the once-small event has grown to attract thousands from around the nation.

The Pumpkin Regatta is similar to a typical fall festival.  Attendees fill their agendas with plans to stuff their faces at the pie-eating contests, cheer on the dancing witches, and collect inspiration for their next Halloween costume just by people-watching.

Giant pumpkins were turned into boats for the participants of the race.

Giant pumpkins were turned into boats for the participants of the race.

Cheyenne Thorpe/OPB

Before the races began, volunteers helped kids into the pumpkin boats who wanted to see what it was like to float in a giant vegetable. 

Before the races began, volunteers helped kids into the pumpkin boats who wanted to see what it was like to float in a giant vegetable. 

Cheyenne Thorpe/OPB

The event held a variety of activities including a kids’ costume contest. 

The event held a variety of activities including a kids’ costume contest. 

Cheyenne Thorpe/OPB

Heather Pearl entertained crowds during the Mz Pearl’s Variety Show.

Heather Pearl entertained crowds during the Mz Pearl’s Variety Show.

Cheyenne Thorpe/OPB

But the main attraction is the race. No delicata at this regatta.

This year, the veggie enthusiasts that make up the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers club hollowed out their precious pumpkins, saving the seeds for next year’s boats, and were the first to hop in their homegrown floating vegetables.

This festival is a meditation on the question, What can’t this gourd do?

Maybe you’ve played a round of pumpkin golf before, or bowled a few pumpkins, or even played giant pumpkin checkers. However, have you ever seen dozens of costumed racers paddle thousand-pound floating pumpkin boats around a lake? Here in Oregon, chances are you have.

The Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers competed during the weigh-in of their massive pumpkins. Attendees climbed on top of the largest pumpkins that weighed up to 1800 pounds. 

The Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers competed during the weigh-in of their massive pumpkins. Attendees climbed on top of the largest pumpkins that weighed up to 1800 pounds. 

Cheyenne Thorpe/OPB

The members of the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers club raced their pumpkins during the first race of the day. 

The members of the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers club raced their pumpkins during the first race of the day. 

Cheyenne Thorpe/OPB

Thousands came from around the nation to the festival full of activities. Including a giant pumpkin on stilts!

Thousands came from around the nation to the festival full of activities. Including a giant pumpkin on stilts!

Cheyenne Thorpe/OPB