The National Heirloom Exposition

Eye the spectacular squashes, hear from experts, try tasty tidbits galore.

PUMPKIN PATCH WISHES: Perhaps you're calling upon your yard more and more as summer wanes, the better to coax your pumpkins and squashes to greater and greater sizes. Or perhaps you simply like attending fairs where gargantuan gourds are the feature, the better to admire, and even go a bit ga-ga over, some of the biggest edibles to spring from a vine. Whatever your approach to pumpkinry, you don't need to wait for the mondo pumpkin festivals of October to start your squash-based squealing: The 6th annual National Heirloom Exposition at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa can get that going for you over the first week in September 2016.

SEPT. 6 THROUGH 8, in fact, which are weekdays, so plan now, work-wise, about making for Santa Rosa to commune with all of the fresh and whole tasties that are in the spotlight of this annual gathering. True, a giant squash tower made headlines last year, and pumpkin competitions do attract fans (as well as other foodly contests). But you'll want to make time to snack upon samples, chat with farmers about a host of fascinating vege-luscious topics, find out about seeds, poultry, and livestock from experts, and enjoy what's billed as "the world's largest annual heritage food event."

VENDORS... won't just be purveying in eatable yumness but also garden tools, gadgets, and the stuff that makes living the heirloom life at home a bit easier. Over 350 vendors are expected, so expect to find a new tomato you have to grow, or a cuke you've wanted to nosh upon, or something you didn't even know would be your next favorite garden staple. Tickets are available at the gate. And as for showing up with a big pumpkin for competition? Not necessary, but count on seeing some sublime squashery, the kind of globes that get the fall going in proper style.

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