15th Gourd Art Festival
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Welburn Gourd Farm

   Festival History

   The Gourd Farm



It all began as the Welburn's annual 4th of July party at their farm in De Luz Canyon near Fallbrook, CA. The whole canyon turned out to enjoy Polynesian-style pork cooked in the ground, horseshoes, card games, and just visiting with Doug & Sue Welburn.

The Welburn's gourd farm business was starting to flourish, and as a way of promoting gourds and bringing people out to the farm, Doug decided to combine the annual 4th of July party with a new event focused on gourds.

So with the support and encouragement of Carol Rookstool and the California Gourd Society, in June of 1997 the annual Welburn Gourd Festival was born.

That first year there were about 13 gourd artists displaying on the front lawn of Doug and Sue’s home, one food vendor selling kahlua pork with sides, buffet style (see photo above), and one Hawaiian Hula Halau for entertainment who performed for about 2 hours on Saturday. The attendance for the two-day weekend event was approximately 1,500 people.

The Second Annual Welburn Gourd Festival was enhanced by the addition of the first Gourd Art Competition in California, inspired by Carol’s enthusiasm and monitored by CGS.

The competition was such a success that after one turn of being held in Doug’s shed, the Competition was moved to a larger tent set up outdoors, and it continues to be one of the greatest attractions of the festival.

During the first two years of festival preparations, Doug & Sue’s daughter, Phoebe Welburn, was enjoying her service in the Peace Corps. By year three with the festival and business growing by leaps and bounds, Phoebe had finished her service and came home to help her parents.

Word of mouth and Phoebe’s marketing campaign perpetuated the festival even further. And after four years on Doug & Sue’s 25-acre property, the festival and the gourd farm business were moved to the Garnsey Ranch, the 110-acre parcel that included the gourd growing fields, just three miles down the road.

With the attendance nearing five figures and the attention of international artists and attendees, the event was renamed the International Gourd Art Festival.

And to add even more promotion for gourd art and crafts, in October 2002, the Welburn Gourd Farm hosted its first annual October Gourd & Pumpkin Fest. The one-day mini festival, complete with gourd art and crafts, gourd art classes, pumpkins, and festivities, was a great success!

With two festivals, planting and harvesting of over 60 acre of gourds, and selling over 350,000 gourds each year, there is always something happening at the Welburn Gourd Farm. The best way to keep informed with the happenings at the Welburn Gourd Farm, including Gourd Art Classes, the June and October Gourd Festivals, and gourd sales, is to sign up on the gourd farm mailing list. To subscribe, click here now.


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