It is our longest running tradition here in Vienna, and we look forward to it every year. The annual pumpkin festival is one of the few nearly Halloween-like celebrations here, and it reminds me so much of the decades of pumpkin picking and carving I’ve done back in the US.
Over the years, we’ve gotten better at the whole thing. The first few times, it took us hours longer to get ready and get ourselves there than it should have, and we always ended up out there either very much over or under dressed. But now, we’re getting it. We know how to get there, we come prepared with warm clothes and big bags with which to carry home our pumpkins. We made it out there in the foggy morning (with the help of B, who acted as our navigator since he was learning about maps at school). We had faces painted, enjoyed our favorite Lángos and pumpkin soup, chose and carved our pumpkins, and played on the recently renovated playground (still daring, even by Austrian standards). And this year, we brought friends.
Elaine and Phil had been here nearly two years at the time (more than 2 years now), but this was their first pumpkin festival. They were amazingly good sports in enduring the speed (or lack thereof) and attention spans (or lack thereof) of the kids while we shopped, enjoyed and explored. We introduced them to Lángos, shopped together for pumpkin seed pesto and chose pumpkins. Then we all sat down to carve them together — it was Elaine’s first time! We finished out the day with some playground time (for us) and a warm drink around the fire (for Phil and Elaine). It was a great day.
The Kürbisfest remains one of my favorite annual Vienna traditions. It reminds me of home, yet is also distinctly Austrian. It celebrates autumn and helps us prepare for Halloween. It is a wonderful day spent in the countryside with a marvelous view of Vienna. And, getting to introduce friends to our much-loved tradition made it even more special this year.