Our Northwest

The dos and don’ts of rowing a GIANT pumpkin!

Monday, October 20, 2014by  Alexandra Barajas

Have you ever rowed a giant pumpkin across an Oregon lake? At this time last week, my answer would have been “no way!” But all that changed following this weekend’s 11th Annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta in Tualatin.

For those of you who (like me) are new to pumpkin rowing, a giant pumpkin regatta is surprisingly exactly what it sounds like – a frenzy of floating, 900-pound, carved-out pumpkins rowed by costumed fanatics across a freezing lake. Sounds fun, right?!

Was it slimy? You bet. Harder than I imagined? Check. Totally awesome? You know it!

Many of my fellow rowers seemed to have trained for this event – pumpkin rowers are serious about this sport. For most of them, it wasn’t their first time!

There are different heats of rowing races at the Pumpkin Regatta. My particular task was to collect six balls and one bonus ball on the lake, all while rowing the pumpkin. Even though I didn’t finish the race in time, I still had a blast!

If you ever find yourself sitting in the belly of a giant pumpkin, paddle in hand, you might want to keep these tips in mind:


  • Watch the first race to see which pumpkin has the most stability. If you can, make friends with the first rower to help you claim your “boat.”
  • When you’re first getting inside the pumpkin, find your balance with the first foot inside and ask someone for help to hold the pumpkin while you get in.
  • Once you’re inside the pumpkin, remember that it’s similar to a kayak. Keep you center of gravity low and try not to lean from side to side.
  • Have fun! It’s a pumpkin regatta, after all.


  • Don’t try to go too fast, or you might end up swimming before you know it!
  • If you’re turning in circles, don’t get frustrated: You may be stuck in a current. Start paddling on one side and do your best to get out.
  • Don’t forget to towel off after your race – chances are you smell like the inside of a pumpkin!

Believe it or not, the boat races are just one part of a day full of fun festivities at the Giant Pumpkin Regatta. The WALLY team had a great time cheering on pie-eating contestants, 5K finishers, and costume contest champs. It’s one of our favorite fall traditions, and we can’t wait to come back next year!

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