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Tualatin holding famous Pumpkin Regatta next month

'Magical' event drew estimated 17,000 attendees last year.

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Daniel Anderson, dressed as a dragon, gets into his pumpkin boat at Tualatin's Pumpkin Regatta last year.On Oct. 15, the Tualatin Commons will feature everything you ever wanted, as long as it's related to pumpkins.

The West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta returns to the Lake of the Commons for its 13th year. The beloved annual community festival will feature a giant vegetable weigh-off, pie-eating contests, activities for kids and families, and — as always — a series of whimsical races across the lake by costumed paddlers in boats made from hollowed-out pumpkins.

Organizers estimate the Pumpkin Regatta drew 17,000 attendees last year.

“We probably had double the crowd we had the year before, so it's grown significantly,” said Heidi Marx, an event specialist with the city of Tualatin, which organizes the festival. “It's getting a lot more national press.”

In response to the larger crowd sizes, Marx said, activities at this year's festival will be spread out more evenly around the lake, rather than being clustered on its west and north sides.

Asked about the festival's increasing popularity, Marx remarked, “It's such a visual event. … How often do you get to see people paddling a thousand-pound pumpkin around a lake?”

The Times' reporter will be among this year's pumpkin paddlers. So will Charity Marshall, a vegetable-grower from Washington, who will be trying on Oct. 9 to set a world record for distance paddled in a pumpkin.

“I had seen the guy that had set the world record last year,” Marshall explained. “I said, 'Well, I think I could do that.'”

Marshall will be trying to set her record on an approximately 16-mile course in southwestern Washington, from Castle Rock to Longview.

“For sure, if everything goes to plan, I'll bring my world-record-attempt hollowed-out pumpkin to Tualatin, and I'll race it there in Tualatin, too,” said Marshall.

This will be Marshall's fourth time attending the Pumpkin Regatta, she said, describing it as a “magical” event.

“I think it's crazy getting into a pumpkin — totally a silly thing, carving out your pumpkin and dressing up and getting inside it,” she said, adding, “It's pretty fun.”

Admission to the Pumpkin Regatta is free. Food will be available for purchase at the festival.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be held regardless of weather. It will be preceded by the annual 5K Regatta Run at 9 a.m., which will raise money for the Cpl. Matthew Lembke Memorial Scholarship, awarded annually to a Tualatin High School student in memory of a graduate who died in the war in Afghanistan. Registration is available on the event website.

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Charity Marshall, center, guides her Wicked Witch pumpkin during Tualatin's annual Pumpkin Regatta last year.

By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor
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