Plenty of pumpkins for a SoCal weekend

Mabel the English bulldog flaunts a bat costume at last year’s Ventura Harbor Village HOWL-O-Ween Do
Mabel the English bulldog flaunts a bat costume at last year’s Ventura Harbor Village Howl-o-Ween Dog Costume Contest.
(Brendan Daly)

Liven up your SoCal weekend with Japanese food and culture, a Halloween costume contest for dogs and pumpkins aplenty.

Costa Mesa

Bring your appetite for ramen, sushi tacos, Wagyu beef and okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes) to the OC Japan Fair at the OC Fair & Event Center. Wash down your meal with sake tastings, tea ceremonies, calligraphy demonstrations and Japanese drumming. The main stage features kimono fashion shows, anime cosplay contests and performances by J-pop singer Misono.

When: 5 p.m. Oct. 19, noon Oct. 20, 10 a.m. Oct. 21

Cost, info: $8. Family friendly. No dogs.


Pismo Beach

The Pismo Beach Clam Festival embraces the city’s 1950s status as the Clam Capital of the World. Drink local beers and wines, shop for crafts and, for $15, sample local restaurants’ clam chowders to vote for your favorite. Little ones can enter the game-filled kids’ zone and the clam dig; they can exchange any clams they find in the sand for prizes.

When: Oct. 19-21, with most clam events on Oct. 21. Check website for times.

Cost, info: Free. Family friendly. Dogs permitted in certain areas. (805) 556-7397,

Los Olivos

Los Olivos Day in the Country festival rounds up a small town for a parade, live music and local crafters and food vendors. Start with an 8 a.m. 5K walk or run (there’s a shorter kids’ run too) and burrito breakfast. The Kiddie Korral offers face painting, yard games and more.


When: 7 a.m. Oct. 20

Cost, info: Free. Family friendly. Dogs permitted. (877) 327-2656,

Borrego Springs

The 53rd Borrego Days Desert Festival starts with a choreographed air parade featuring 30 vintage and military aircraft. Turn your eyes from the sky to the streets to watch floats, marching bands and classic cars parade around Christmas Circle Community Park. Post-parade, enjoy crafts vendors, food stalls, a beer garden and carnival activities into the evening.

When: 10 a.m. Oct. 20 and 21

Cost, info: Free. Family friendly. Dogs permitted. (760) 767-5555,


Some say Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza was traveling through 1700s Calabasas when his wagon full of pumpkins overturned, giving the city its first pumpkin patch and its name, derived from calabaza, Spanish for “pumpkin.” The Calabasas Chamber of Commerce throws a Pumpkin Festival, featuring a pumpkin patch, professional carver and pumpkin crafts. When you’re worn out from mummy-wrap contests and inflatable slides, chill out with pumpkin beers, empanadas and live music.

When: 10 a.m. Oct 20 and 21

Cost, info: $5 when purchased by Oct. 15, $10 after. Family friendly. No dogs. (818) 222-5680,



Watch your costumed pet strut around Ventura Harbor Village for the Howl-o-Ween Dog Costume Contest, which has seen canine bees, cows, fishermen and more. It’s capped at 100 and gives five awards (for spookiness, seaworthiness, originality, cuteness and best in show). Prizes include a ribbon, dog treats, your choice of pumpkin and gift certificates to Ventura Harbor Village businesses. Preregistration recommended.

When: 10:30 a.m. for contest participants, 11 a.m. for spectators Oct. 20

Cost, info: Free. Family friendly. Dogs permitted. (805) 477-0470,