Fame grows on the cucurbitaceous family




The Calabash Festival of Gourds & More, a day set aside for family fun with gourds and more, is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens, 641 Struthers Ave.

Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 6–12 and free for children younger than 6. For every child between the ages of 6–12 who is with other children of that same age range, the rate will be reduced to $2.

The day includes a judged flower show, gourd art demonstrations, a gourd and pumpkin catapult, live music and dancing with Push/Don’t Pull Dance Theater from Mesa State College.

In addition, there will be an insectival with live tarantualas and tamarisk beetles plus a bug theater showing scientific movies about insects every hour.

Proceeds benefit the Western Heritage Garden.

There is more to a gourd than meets the eye.

Some may think a gourd is an odd-shaped, inedible, multi-colored fall item.

If you are one of those people, as the saying goes, “You are out of your gourd.”

In addition to representing the human head and brain in certain circumstances, a gourd is defined as a cucurbitaceous fruit to include such things as cucumbers, watermelon or squash, according to “Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.”

In fact, even pumpkins are in the gourd family.

According to “Webster’s,” a gourd also is a hard-rinded fruit of the Lagenaria genus used as vessels and utensils.

They can transform into musical instruments (maracas) or holiday treats (Jack-o’-lanterns). A dried gourd’s rind almost resembles wood, making it, perhaps, an unconventional art canvas.

So before dismissing a gourd as nothing more than a decoration for the Thanksgiving table, look at these famous gourds through history. You might be surprised.


It was a memorable line from one of the most iconic movies of the 1980s. “I carried a watermelon,” Baby told Johnny Castle when he questioned why an affluent tourist would dare come to the employees-only party at Kellerman’s Resort.

The movie is “Dirty Dancing,” and Baby, who really did carry a watermelon to the party, was played by Jennifer Grey. Bad-boy Castle was played by Patrick Swayze, who died one year ago on Sept. 14. Any woman older than 30 who has carried a watermelon anywhere perhaps has jokingly uttered this line.


Larry the Cucumber is a lead character in the children’s series, “Veggie Tales.” He even has his own page on the Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com.

Don’t forget Jimmy and Jerry Gourd, the comedic brothers.


Many people either grew up watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” or have at least heard of the 1966 movie, which is typically shown every year near Halloween. Written by Charles M. Schulz, who created the entire Peanuts gang, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” follows Linus into the pumpkin patch to wait for the Great Pumpkin, who he thinks is fall’s version of Santa Claus.

Pumpkins may have first entered fairy tale lore with the story of peasant beauty-turned-princess, Cinderella.

Cinderella is too poor to attend the ball thrown by the Prince until her fairy godmother arrives to cast spells and turn regular things — pumpkin — into amazing things — beautiful carriage — but only until the stroke of midnight.

As the story goes, the Prince is taken with Cinderella’s beauty and kindness and determines to find her. When the glass slipper Cinderella leaves on the palace staircase fits on Cinderella’s foot, the Prince knows she is his match.

American author Washington Irving’s penned a character named Ichabod Crane in his story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

In the story, Ichabod, a schoolteacher smitten with a beautiful local girl, Katrina Van Tassel, disappears and a pumpkin is found next to his abandoned hat. It is feared that Ichabod has been taken by the evil Headless Horseman, who supposedly haunts the area.

But Brom Bones, a rival for Katrina who wins her hand with Ichabod out of the way, always has a “look of exceedingly knowing” when the story of Ichabod and the pumpkin come up in conversation.

Pumpkin juice is consumed by the students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and made internationally famous with the popularity of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling and the movies based on the books. Dozens of pumpkin juice recipes are available on the Internet for all the wannabe wizards out there.


Squash may not be as popular in film as pumpkins or melons, but it is the only gourd with a sport with the same name.

Squash, although not mainstream in the United States, is popular in other parts of the world. One of the most famous players in squash history is Mahmoud Karim, an Egyptian legend.


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