Autumn may mean pumpkins, but pumpkins don't have to mean pie. Instead, try one of these novel ways to feed your pumpkin jones this month.
With pumpkin-sculpting demos, a pie-eating contest, live bluegrass and more food stalls than you can count (selling items like pumpkin chili and pumpkin elephant ears), the Circleville Pumpkin Show (Oct. 16-19) is a fall-festival fan's dream. The highlight is Wednesday morning's weigh-in. Thousand-pound gourds are lined up along East Main Street, awaiting a super-scale that determines the winner. Dr. Robert Liggett has won 10 first-place titles and is the festival record-holder (his 2009 entry measured 1,635 pounds). He predicts this year's fest will be an exciting one. "In talking with some of the other growers," he says, "I think it's possible there may be a new record in Circleville this year." pumpkinshow.com
The bakers at Pattycake Bakery know that pumpkin isn't simply a fad flavor easily derived from a can. Their pumpkin-spice whoopie pies are made with locally sourced pumpkins, giving their cakes an earthy flavor that pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the icing holding the pie together. A tasty bonus: The bakery is organic and vegan, so you can feel guilt-free while indulging. pattycakeveganbakery.com
Young's Jersey Dairy owner Dan Young's advice for the perfect pumpkin chuck? Get enough arc to reach the target; at Young's, it's an old corn wagon that when hit with a pumpkin yields an ice-cream cone prize for the chucker. It's not sophisticated-the kid-friendly chucking machine is, in essence, a big rubber-band launcher with a pumpkin-sized cup-but that's part of the fun. Go chuck on Saturdays and Sundays through the end of the month, and be sure to check out the corn maze and catch a cow-milking demonstration, too. youngsdairy.com
The sixth annual Glass Axis Pumpkin Patch (Oct. 11-13) is the perfect opportunity for first-timers to try a hand at glass art. For $50, artists 12 and older can sculpt hot glass into a whimsical and colorful palm-sized gourd-with the help of an instructor, of course. Ofice manager Amy Mallat says the once-a-year collection of pumpkins (made by on-site pros and starting at $19) has become a seasonal go-to for families who'd rather browse than create. glassaxis.org
That's the Spirit
Skip the pumpkin latte. The cocktail experts at M at Miranova won't overdo their nod to pumpkin this fall. Instead, Ryan Valentine, director of beverage for Cameron Mitchell restaurants, says they'll be more subtle with their seasonal concoctions. He suggests a bourbon and apple-cider cocktail with a pumpkin-seed-dusted rim. matmiranova.comPumpkin Up Your Cocktail
Mouton, the Short North's go-to spot for classic cocktails, created this make-at-home recipe for pumpkin and rum lovers alike.Hot Pumpkin Butter Rum
2 ounces rum, preferably Mount Gay Eclipse (Mouton mixologist Logan Demmy says spiced rum will do in a pinch)
2 tablespoons pumpkin-butter base (see below)
6-8 ounces boiling water
In a small heat-proof glass, mix the pumpkin-butter base with half the water. Add the rum and top off the glass with the rest of the water. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
For pumpkin-butter base:
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup pumpkin butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Whip all ingredients by hand until well mixed. The base can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.