October means many things. It means Halloween, harvest season, or just the arrival of fall, and falling leaves. But no matter which part of October you celebrate, the pumpkin is likely to be part of the party.
At Cox Farms Fall Festival in the Washington suburbs, picking out the perfect pumpkins is a big part of fun.
“Every year we come here. Bring the family out for the festival and get the pumpkins for Halloween carving. It is just a family tradition," said a visitor.
"These big guys are about 25 pounds. This white blueish one, we are going to eat that one," said another.
The pick-your-own farm offers a variety of pumpkins and gourds in different sizes, shapes and colors.
”We offer 40 or 50 different varieties of pumpkins, and all together 150,000 pumpkins will go through this place," said Lucas Cox, co-owner of Cox Farms.
Lucas Cox, second generation co-owner, says his family has been holding this fall festival since 1983, and it has grown every year.
“We have over 100, 000 visitors for the season. I think Halloween is the fastest growing holiday in the US. And the pumpkins are the staple of Halloween. You cannot have Halloween without pumpkins. So that means pumpkin business is growing every year," said Cox.
As the weather cools, pumpkins appear on front porches, roadside stands pop up everywhere, and grocery stores overflow with pumpkins and pumpkin products.
According to a market research firm, Americans spent more than $350 million on pumpkin-flavored products last year.
“We are selling pumpkin spice [drinks] from early September through mid-November and it sells really well," said barista Marcia Vernor.
Other nontraditional pumpkin products are also gaining popularity.
“It is pumpkin beer. I’ve never tried before. But it is that time of the year when we start eating pumpkin or drinking pumpkin, in this case," said a customer.
However,in the Midwest where 90 percent of the nation's pumpkins are grown bad weather has had an impact.
“The late summer rains in the Midwest really hurt the pumpkin crop. And the pumpkin supply is really starting to tighten up this year," said Lucas Cox.
Cox says he has enough pumpkins to make this years festival a success. And next year he expects farmers to harvest even more to meet a growing demand.