Tualatin's Pumpkin Regatta is back and bigger than ever
After two years of no giant orange gourds racing around Tualatin Lake at the Commons, the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta is returning for two full days of fun.
Officials are expecting record crowds — if the weather holds up.
"People are really excited to get back to the regatta after a two-year break and it brings a lot of attention to our town," said Heidi Marx, Tualatin Parks and Recreation Department event specialist. "There's a lot of community pride, and I think people are just ready to gather back together and celebrate."
For the first time ever, the pumpkin races will be held on a Sunday, Oct. 16, with Pumpkins and Pints and the annual Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers' Terminator Weigh-Off set from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Stickman Brewing Company, 19475 S.W. 118th Ave. in Tualatin.
The defending champion of the Terminator Weigh-Off is Jim Sherwood, who is also its coordinator for the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers. In 2019, Sherwood took home the first-place purse of $1,000 with a pumpkin weighing in at 1,785 pounds.
The Terminator Weigh-Off will include not only pumpkins but other giant vegetables as well.
Marx said it was decided in 2019 to spread the pumpkin event over two days.
"It's gotten pretty big, and so we decided just to make it Regatta weekend and do the Weigh-Off and Pumpkins and Pints on Saturday and then the pumpkin races and the festival on Sunday," she said.
The weekend is an all-hands-on-deck effort for Tualatin, a city of nearly 28,000, with municipal workers from police to maintenance all chipping in to help.
"It's a lot of fun. I think it's one of those events that everybody enjoys doing," said Marx. "It's a little outside of your normal work routine and … when you're there and you see all the smiling faces and how much fun everybody's having, it definitely brings a lot of job satisfaction."
The highlights of the main Sunday event begin at 9 a.m. Oct. 16, when walkers and runners meet in Tualatin Community Park for the Regatta Run 5K.
Proceeds for what organizers call a "flat, fast and friendly" course, benefit Tualatin Rotary's first-generation college scholarships distributed by Tualatin High School.
The Regatta Run is inclusive and friendly to dogs and children. Participants with dogs on a leash or baby strollers are welcome.
At noon, costumed participants will crawl into their carved-out pumpkins for the first of two Regatta races on the lake. The final two races start at 2 p.m.
Marx said about 215 people applied to the lottery for selection to paddle in the races, with 80 names selected. Those contestants not only represent Oregon but also Alaska, Florida and California.
There's even a celebrity paddler this year. Biko Wright, who was a runner-up on Season 8 of the popular History Channel survivalist show "Alone," will be a Pumpkin Regatta contestant.
Wright lives in Otis, where he works as a construction laborer and is lead singer for the band Sirion.
Also returning will be such events as pumpkin bowling, pumpkin golf, and pumpkin craft and face painting. Mz. Pearl's Variety Show is set for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. A kids' costume contest will be judged at 3 p.m.
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