Pumpkin fest grows, and so does entry price

TINY TOT, BIG PUMPKINS—The Calabasas Pumpkin Festival is especially popular among families and kids. Acornfile photo

TINY TOT, BIG PUMPKINS—The Calabasas Pumpkin Festival is especially popular among families and kids. Acorn file photo

The Calabasas Pumpkin Festival started as a free, one-day event. As it grew more popular, organizers extended the festival to a full weekend and began charging a $5 admission. Now the price of entry has been doubled.

Attendees to this year’s festival, which is scheduled for Oct. 20 and 21, will be charged $10 at the gate. The Calabasas City Council approved the price hike at its June 13 meeting to subsidize the cost of the event, which has seen attendance nearly double in eight years.

Jeff Rubin, Calabasas’ director of community services, said residents can still pay $5 per ticket if they buy them in advance.

“We’re going to be doing presale tickets for about a six-week period,” Rubin said. “It more favors the residents because all the facilities where they can buy tickets are (in Calabasas). We want to make sure we’re serving our residents and we are impacting the neighborhoods for that weekend, so as long as they get a pre-sale ticket everything’s the same as it’s always been.”

Children under 2 will still be admitted at no charge. Seniors, active military and veterans will pay $5 for admission, even at the gate.

Pre-sale tickets will be available at de Anza Park, the Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center, City Hall and the Calabasas Chamber of Commerce from Sept. 1 through Oct. 15.

The one-day festival expanded to a full weekend in 2007 and cost the city over $60,000.

Ride tickets and vendors were the only source of revenue from the event and paid for a third of the total cost. In 2010, organizers started charging attendees $5 at the gate to recover the other two-thirds of the cost. At the time, crowds averaged around 4,500 patrons per day.

Since 2015, attendance has exceeded 6,500 people per day, and the festival drew significantly more visitors from more than 20 miles away, city staff reported.

“Personnel services, sheriff’s services, parking, shuttles, entertainment, sound, the barricades, all these fees have gone up over the years,” Rubin said. “The impact to the facilities that we don’t budget for, the damage—we get grass torn up, fences damaged. Things happen when you’re bringing that many people out. This is a way to potentially bring in a bit of additional revenue to cover these increased (fees).”

The Pumpkin Festival is a joint effort between the City of Calabasas and the Calabasas Chamber of Commerce that was started in 1972. It was originally held at Paramount Ranch but moved to de Anza Park when it was revived in 2005 after a two-year hiatus caused by financial difficulties.