Eat, Pray, Gourd

Running of the Gourds Casa Grande, Arizona

Running of the Gourds
13th Annual Gourd Festival, Casa Grande, Arizona


As someone from Washington state, I’m used to chocolate slugs on a stick and naked people in colorful body paint peddling bicycles in a parade.

However, I’m not at all used to Arizona’s scorpions (dead, I think) melted inside sweet lollypops or festivals celebrating gourds. While I’ve never licked a sugary scorpion or seen a naked person riding a bicycle in the desert, I have seen–as of today–my first gourd festival. The festival is not about education, such as the historical uses of gourds among cultures, or even how to grow your own gourd. The festival is all about “things to do with gourds”~such as turn them into a wind chime or birdhouse or flute. Many of the gourds no longer resemble a gourd after going through a cutting and painting process to look like a flamingo.

Jerry isn't worried at all about water as he is looking at the tractor and not all the people around him holding water bottles.

Jerry isn’t worried at all about water as he is looking at the tractor and not all the people around him holding water bottles.

Jerry and I began our first gourd festival adventure with a free tractor ride to the entrance. Actually, we rode inside the trailer pulled by the tractor, and sat among many other festival-goers. I noticed many of my fellow festival-goers holding water bottles, reminding me that I forgot mine. At that realization, I missed out on the fun of the trailer ride as I spent most of the time thinking how thirsty I had suddenly become. I wondered how expensive bottled water would be at the festival? Or if the vendors would have water for sale? What if they only sell beer? Oh, if I only had my water bottle!

Flamingo gourd.

Flamingo gourd.

I forgot about my dying thirst as soon as I strolled through the gate and spotted the miniature horses. I don’t know what they have to do with gourds, but there they were~the cutest miniature horses ever. They alone made our $8 festival admission price well worth the cost. “Is it okay to pet them?” I asked the owner. “Of course,” she said, “They’re very gentle.” I wondered how I could take one home with me. I told Jerry I didn’t know until the festival that I must have a miniature horse. “It’s on my bucket list,” I said. Jerry thought about it for a moment and then said, “Well, we’ll have high vet bills, but okay.” Maybe I could keep him in the laundry room? Jerry said, “You’ll need two. Miniature horses get very lonely by themselves.”

I want one of these miniature horses for Christmas next year. I will need to get our HOA to approve a miniature barn.

I want one of these miniature horses for Christmas next year…if not sooner. 

My attention turned to gourds. I actually couldn’t get away from them. Everything gourds surrounded me. I noticed the gourd festival used the word gourd quite frequently in clever signs.

GFEat Pray

GF Worry

When I noticed the sign Kindergourden pointing toward a small room, I thought it might be a display showing how one might grow their own gourds at home. Maybe explain what a gourd is? I know gourds are in the squash family, and that many cultures use gourds for bowls and hats and musical instruments. But what else? Kindergourden, it turned out, was a mock old-time schoolhouse, with a gourd teacher and a chalk-inscribed blackboard reminding us that people are crazy. Crazy people who go to gourd festivals?

GF Kindergourden

Kindergourden, where the teacher is a gourd.

I loved the bright colors at the festival.

GF Colored Gourds

GF Flags

You can decorate your Christmas tree in gourds.

You can decorate your Christmas tree in colorful gourds.

We missed the mini gourdster races; speedy little gourds with wheels, I presume. We did get to look at all the different projects you can do with gourds embellished with paintings, wood burning designs and carvings. I loved the cat gourd so much that Jerry told me he will make one for my birthday.

I almost bought this cat gourd until Jerry told me he would make a better one for me. And knowing how artistic he is, I know it will be much better.

I almost bought this cat gourd until Jerry told me he would make a better one for me. And knowing how artistic he is, I know it will be.

After promising to make me a cat gourd, Jerry searched the bins of dried gourds for the perfect cat-shaped gourd with tail.

GF Plain Gourds

The festival had zillions of dried gourds and people were buying them like crazy. 


One of the gourds Jerry bought. Gourds have a beauty all their own. (Our cat photo-bombed the picture in the hope we notice her beauty as well.)

As Jerry and I were driving home, Jerry said, “I can’t believe there is an entire festival dedicated to gourds. Yet I didn’t learn anything about gourds except we can make artsy-craftsy things with them. And after the gourds are cut up and painted and other parts glued on, they no longer resemble a gourd. They might as well be sticks. Why not have a festival celebrating sticks? There are a lot of things you can make with sticks.”

I joked, “Why not a barbed wire festival, featuring all the different kinds of barbed wire?”

“Bronwyn, barbed wire has history,” Jerry said in a serious tone. “There are different types in different locations. There’s an interesting technology in how barbed wire is made, how it is wound. Barbed wire reshaped the American West. That would be an interesting festival.”

That said, there are four–no, five things you might like to know:

One. Life is a never ending adventure where people ride bicycles naked in the Seattle area and they attend festivals (with clothes on) celebrating hard-shelled squash in the Phoenix area.


Two. If you get the chance to go to a gourd festival~Go. You never know, it may encourage your husband to promise you a cat gourd for your birthday.

Three. There are many barbed wire festivals held across the United States and many collectors of the fencing material with hundreds of unusual twisted wire designs.

Four. Different strokes for different folks, and so on and so and scooby dooby doo, (that’s from a song, which I no longer remember the title of.)


Seattle's naked bike ride.

Seattle’s naked bike ride.

Five. Life has its troubles. But it has its fun too and all we need to do is notice it.

5 thoughts on “Eat, Pray, Gourd

  1. Julie

    Love it! Love all your writing and I really liked the cat hours too. Can Jerry make us an orange one like Niko? It might keep him company 🙂

  2. Layla Lean

    The cat looks like she has read your mind and is afraid she will be replaced by a gourd cat on your birthday. The cat gourds are really adorable though.


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