Perfect for decorating, carving and even eating, the members of the genus Cucurbita come in a wide variety. Stately pumpkins, lumpy decorative gourds and tasty squash are all closely related members of this genus.
All shapes and sizes are now available at farmers markets everywhere, including the one that meets Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings for the rest of October at the northwest corner of the Crossroads Mall. Vendors there are willing to tell about the different varieties available and how to cook them.
Some varieties include:
Pie Pumpkin - These familiar fruits may not get as big as other varieties, but they are sweet enough to eat.
Giant Pumpkin - Technically suitable for eating, the larger pumpkins are much more likely to be seen smiling on someone's front porch with a candle inside.
Spaghetti squash - So named because the insides are like spaghetti. Simply cut it in half, cook it and scoop out the insides, then pour spaghetti sauce over it and see if you can tell the difference. Or set the whole squash in a pan of boiling water and it will split right open.
Here's a round up of free area community trick-or-treat events.
Algona - Oct. 31, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Badger - Oct. 30, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Barnum - Oct. 30, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Blairsburg - Oct. 31, 5 to 7 p.m.
Bode - Oct. 31, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Burt - Oct. 31, 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Callender -Oct. 30, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Clarion - Oct. 30, 5 to 7 p.m.
Dakota City - Oct. 31, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., plus free party for kindergarten through fourth grade at the old middle school
Dayton - Oct. 30, 5 to 7 p.m.
Duncombe - Oct. 30, 5 to 7 p.m.
Eagle Grove - Oct. 29, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Farnhamville - Oct. 30, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Fort Dodge - Oct. 31, 5:30 to 7 p.m., plus, on Oct. 29, participating stores will hand out candy from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Crossroads Mall
Gilmore City - Oct. 31, 5 to 7 p.m.
Gowrie - Oct. 30, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Goldfield - Oct. 29, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Harcourt - Oct. 30, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Humboldt - Oct. 31, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., plus free party for kindergarten through fourth grade at the old middle school
Lake City - Oct. 29, 5 to 7 p.m.
Lake View - Oct. 30, 4:30 to 6 p.m. downtown merchants; 5 to 7 p.m. residential; 7 p.m. costume contest
Lehigh - Oct. 31, 5 to 7 p.m.
Livermore - Oct 31, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Lohrville - Oct. 28, 5 to 7 p.m.
Lu Verne - Oct 31, 5 to 7 p.m.
Manson - Oct. 30, 6 to 8 p.m.
Moorland - Oct 31, 5 to 7 p.m.
Otho - Oct. 31, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Rockwell City - Oct. 30, 5 to 7 p.m.
Rolfe - Oct. 31, 5:30 to 730 p.m.
Sac City - Oct 31, 6 to 8 p.m.
Somers - Oct. 30, 5 to 7 p.m.
Stanhope - Oct. 31, 6 to 8 p.m.; also Halloween party in lower level of Community Building
Stratford - Oct. 31, 5 to 7 p.m.
Thor - Oct. 31, 5 to 7 p.m.
Titonka - Oct. 31, 5 to 7 p.m.
Vincent - Oct 29, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Webster City - Oct. 31, 4 to 6 p.m. downtown merchants; 6 to 8 p.m. residential
Wesley - Oct. 31, 5 to 7 p.m.
West Bend - Oct. 31, 5 to 7 p.m.
Whittemore - Oct. 31, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., houses with porch lights on only
Woolstock - Oct. 31, 5 to 7 p.m.
Miniature pumpkin - Varieties of this include Jack Be Little and Little Boo, a completely white pumpkin.
Gourd - Not edible, but a staple of fall decorating.
Acorn squash - Cut it in half, put in brown sugar, butter and salt and throw it in the microwave for quick easy prep. The green ones are most common, but other colors can be found at the market as well. Orange acorn squash have a smoother textured flesh, while white acorns are milder-tasting. Carnival squash are similar in shape to the acorn, but have a more mottled white-green-orange color, and taste sweeter.
Buttercup squash - One of the sweeter squashes available. The flesh is very dark orange, the darker the better, and has a thicker texture than some other squash.
Butternut squash - Has finer flesh than the others, less fibrous and more like a sweet potato. The best choice for making soup.