Editor’s note: Given rising COVID-19 case counts spurred by the delta variant, COVID-19 protocols and other details for events are subject to change. Please check your event’s website for the latest information, and heed local health authorities’ safety recommendations as they’re updated.

What’s Happening Sept. 17-23

What better way to ring in the start of fall than with a festival of carnival games, exhibition veggies, a hay maze and more — oh, and giant pumpkins! The Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival celebrates all that is red, orange and yellow from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18.

The festival partners with the Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth, an international organization sanctioned to record giant pumpkin world records. When the festival first began a little over 10 years ago, it was just a weigh site for giant produce in the region. Now, it has transformed into a daylong event with a festive fall flair — it includes a parade of deliveries, family-oriented games, carnival attractions, a hay maze, face painting, toad races, seasonal bites and coffee, live music and, of course, the giant pumpkin and vegetable weigh-off.

Last year, the festival set the record for their biggest pumpkin ever recorded — it weighed in at 1,924 pounds! There was also a 120-pound watermelon, a 1.26-pound tomato and a 4.34-pound kohlrabi (a German turnip in the cabbage family).

At the 2020 Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival, Joel and Mari Lour Holland grew the biggest pumpkin weighing in at 1,924 pounds.  (Stephanie Banaszak)

How can produce grow this big? Well, “for the vegetables, it’s more luck with what you grow,” said Emma Christianson, events coordinator at Christianson’s Nursery & Greenhouse. “With the pumpkins, you usually go about buying a seed from a previous giant pumpkin,” she said.

This giant pumpkin seed is only the beginning of the process of growing a large pumpkin, though. Growers have to make sure that their pumpkins are in pristine condition as they grow. “If there’s any sign of a hole or any break or a crack — anything that would allow moisture into the pumpkin — they’re not allowed to submit the pumpkin because there could be extra weight because of water damage,” Christianson said.

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With an average of 10 to 20 pumpkins entered into the weigh-off competition each year, the festival is a large attraction in the Skagit Valley community. “I think our first year we maybe only had like two or three pumpkins, so it’s definitely been an evolution over the years, and I think it’ll continue to evolve as the years go on, if we get more and more entries,” Christianson said.

“We’ve had people submit pumpkins from across Washington state, and then we get a lot of folks who come to visit us on the festival day from all over the state, too … This area heavily emphasizes agritourism. We have a lot of farm fall events going on this time of the year — a lot of nurseries or seasonal flower carts or drive-by stands on the side of the country roads that we have out here — everything is very fall-themed,” she said.

The small-town valley culture of local farmers and growers is one that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, Christianson said.

“Our farmers are loved and our farmland is loved, and I think that is culturally something for folks to experience. And if people have not made their way up to the nursery before, I think the pumpkin festival is a great introductory opportunity for them because they get to be part of it but also get to be in the nursery at a time in the year where we’re just all excited about growing, we’re excited about planting. Our mantra of this time of year is ‘fall is for planting,’ so it’s a really fun time to be up in this area,” Christianson said.

The Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival will take place 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 18 at Christianson’s Nursery & Greenhouse (15806 Best Road, Mount Vernon). Find more information at: christiansonsnursery.com/events/2021-skagit-valley-giant-pumpkin-festival

What else is happening

Here are some other events happening Sept. 17-23 in the Puget Sound area. If you would like to submit an event for consideration, please fill out the form at the bottom of the post.

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Whidbey Island Music Festival — Sept. 17-18

The Whidbey Island Music Festival invites attendees to enjoy live music on a spacious outdoor deck from a private home Sept. 17 (7 p.m.) and Sept. 18 (4 p.m.). The concert includes music by violinist Tekla Cunningham and pianist Sheila Weidendorf with the violin sonatas of Johannes Brahms. Layers and blankets are encouraged, and wine, coffee and Brahms-inspired pastries will be provided. Purchase tickets online; $35. 1037 Woodside Lane, Langley; whidbeyislandmusicfestival.org

Friends & Family Fitness Day — Sept. 18

Grab your friends and family for a day of fitness fun starting at 9:30 a.m. at Magnuson Park. The day includes 5K, 10K and 15K races, as well as a duathlon. Register online; $3.65-$49.76. 7400 Sand Point Way N.E., Seattle; magnusonseries.org

FundaMental Fest — Sept. 18

This outdoor wellness festival and fundraiser invites visitors to prioritize their mental health 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The festival includes live music, arts, relaxation rituals, classes, healing practices, food and more. Free. 6532 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle; 206-208-0801; ruesante.com/fundamental-fest

The Carnation Block Party — “Rock the Nation 2021” — through Sept. 18

The 2021 Rock the Nation Music and Arts Festival is a family-friendly block party at Tolt Commons 11 a.m.-9 p.m. The event begins with yoga led by Kelley Rush of Two Rivers Yoga/Your Heart Life, followed by art, music and art booths. There will also be a cider press and beer and wine garden for those over 21, as well as food trucks for all ages. Free. State Route 203 and Bird Street, Carnation; savorsnoqualmievalley.org/event/5th-annual-carnation-block-party

Honk Fest West — Sept. 18

Honk Fest West offers a day of brass band performances spanning multiple genres, as well as traditional African and Brazilian drum and dance, noon-7:30 p.m. There will be over 18 groups performing on two stages throughout the day. Free. 4721 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle; honkfestwest.org

HOMECOMING Performing Arts Festival — Sept. 18-19

Intiman Theatre presents a performing arts festival on the final weekend of summer in the heart of Capitol Hill Sept. 18 (11 a.m.-10 p.m.) and Sept. 19 (11 a.m.-9 p.m.). The festival features over 100 artists, comedy acts, live music, art installations, food trucks, art vendors, a beer garden and more. Purchase tickets online; $10-$205, limited number of free tickets available daily at the box office. 801 E. Pine St., Seattle; 206-441-7178; intiman.org

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Sea Mar Fiestas Patrias

Seattle Center Festál presents Sea Mar Fiestas Patrias Sept. 18 (online at noon) and 19 (in-person noon-5 p.m.). This is a celebration of the independence of Latin American countries, many of which celebrate their national independence day in September. Attendees can enjoy traditional Latin American food and cooking demonstrations, live music, folk dance performances, art, children’s activities and more. Streaming live on YouTube and in-person at Sea Mar Community Center; free. 9635 Des Moines Memorial Drive S., Seattle; seattlefiestaspatrias.org

Creativity al Fresco — Sept. 19

Enjoy live music while you paint, photograph, perform, read or do your art 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Bring your lunch, take a tour of the sculpture park and have dessert provided by the folks at Cloudstone Foundation. RSVP: paularichards800@gmail.com; free. 5056 Cloudstone Lane, Freeland; cloudstonesculpture.com

Native Plants 101: Identification and Gardening — Sept. 20

Learn to identify some of Western Washington’s common native plants in this virtual class 6:30-8 p.m. The class also covers several different species, their growth preferences and how best to incorporate them in your garden. Register online; $20. botanicgardens.uw.edu

History Collective: Pike Place Market — Sept. 21

In this virtual edition of History Collective, a series that curates conversations about the history of Seattle neighborhoods, the stories of immigrant families and the history of Pike Place Market will be highlighted 5-6 p.m. The conversation will include three women behind multigenerational legacy businesses at the market: Carlee Hollenbeck from Pure Food Fish Market, Leila Rosas from Oriental Mart and Xee Yang-Schell from Yang Flowers Farm. Register online; free. historicseattle.org

The Cookers — Sept. 21-22

KNKX and Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley host bepop supergroup The Cookers 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 and 22. Band members include Billy Harper (tenor saxophone), Eddie Henderson (trumpet), David Weiss (trumpet), George Cables (piano), Donald Harrison (alto saxophone), Cecil McBee (bass) and Billy Hart (drums). Purchase tickets online; $32.50. 2033 Sixth Ave., Seattle; 206-441-9729; jazzalley.com

Three Degree Affair — David B. Williams “Homewaters” — Sept. 23

Join Seward Park Audubon and David B. Williams for an evening of conversation, fine spirits and food 6-7:30 p.m. In his latest book, “Homewaters,” Williams shares insights on the unique ecology and changing waters of Puget Sound. He will discuss the nature of the Sound, its inhabitants and his perspective of our impact on the Sound. Register online; free. 5902 Lake Washington Blvd. S., Seattle; 206-652-2444; sewardpark.audubon.org