Pumpkinpalooza 2017

Admit it, Halloween may be the best holiday. Maybe I feel that way because I have an insatiable sweet tooth for candy, or maybe it’s because I think we should be encouraged to wear Halloween costumes year round. Either way, I’m looking forward to bringing the family to Pumpkinpalooza this weekend (Oct 22) in Sparks, which is basically a massive celebration of Halloween. There’s a kid’s Halloween costume parade, pumpkin decorating, food and entertainment, and the infamous Pumpkin Derby – that’s right folks, pumpkin racing! If you’re not able to prep a racer in advance, you can show up to the event empty handed and build your pumpkin racer on site for only $15 (which you get back entirely after the event when you give back the axles and wheels).

I chatted with Chris Cobb, whose family partners up with their neighbors, David Eisenhauer and his kids, to prep for the Pumpkin Derby at Pumpkinpalooza. I talked to him about what makes building pumpkin racers with his kids so fun, and I asked him for a few pro tips for all you pumpkin-racing newbies! Check out what he said, then this weekend, come get creative, spend some quality time with your kids, and get geared up for Halloween.

[Shameless plug: And come by the Reno Dads booth to say hi to us!]

What do you enjoy the most about working with your kids to prep their pumpkin racer?

To hear their ideas of what they want to make for a racer, sharing ideas how to make it, and teaching them how to use various tools [to build it].

What do you enjoy most about the Pumpkin Derby at Pumpkinpalooza?

Seeing all the different designs, watching my kids and my neighbors kids cheer each other on. While they each had their own pumpkin since we always built them together, the motto was “if one wins, we all win.”

Pro tips for new racers you’d be willing to share?

  • Straight axles

  • Look to get some wheels with bearings (cheap wheels at garage sales look for razor scooters or skateboards-Razor wheels have been best).

  • If building at home don’t drill axle holes in pumpkin till day before.

  • We have used all thread for axles-next to pumpkin oversized washer and nut to hold axle in place each side, used washers and double nut either side of wheels to keep wheels from wobbling.

  • Build a wood jig with two 2×4’s to keep drill bit straight, one person hold the pumpkin or strap it while your child drills the axle.

  • Once first axle hole is drilled, slide that axle through jig into pumpkin, then drill next axle.

  • Work with your child putting wheels on and test on a slope

  • If it veers work on adjustments, might even need to bend axle, mark axle ends to know where they should aim to go straight.

  • If you can’t get it to run completely straight know which way it tends to turn so when your child puts on the starting gate have them aim their pumpkin a bit in the other direction or line it up further to the other side.

  • Best pumpkins we’ve used have been more elongated, don’t worry about weight have won with 10 lb to 18 lb, straight is best.

  • Have Fun! Best races are after races at the house, kids had smash up derby races with the pumpkins down the driveway.

What is your favorite thing about Halloween?

Carving pumpkins with the kids and what creative ideas they come up with for a pumpkin.
Carving the kids pumpkin for annual picture. Since my kids were born we’ve always carved the same design for a photo with them. When they were little we would actually stuff the kids into the pumpkin for the picture.


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