Highwood Pumpkin Fest
Pumpkins light up the night in Highwood.

There?s a reason you don?t live in California. You love sweater season. You thrill to the sound of crunching leaves. You?re a costume pro, and pumpkin carving just happens to be your creative calling.

This weekend, head to the North Shore burb of Highwood, where an annual pumpkin fest will make your fall fantasies come true.

Here?s your personal strategy for making the most of the revelry:

Thursday, 7 p.m.: Wield a knife alongside 1,000 carvers during the ?Most Pumpkins Carved Simultaneously? contest. Bragging rights are the only prize, but doesn?t participating in a Guinness World Record count for something?

Friday, 6 p.m.: Return for the weekend?s first stab at another record: an attempt to display 32,000 lit jack-o?-lanterns at once. (Last year?s hopes for the title--an effort documented by HGTV--were dashed by a stiff Windy City breeze.)

Saturday, 9 a.m.: Pack your pup and her Halloween garb in the car; hold off on the pumpkin-spice latte for now. (You?ll get your fix later.) Starting at 10, browse for brunch at the fest?s gourmet market. Pumpkin butter, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin ho-hos--you get the drift.

1 p.m.: Stuff your face with pumpkin pie.

2 p.m.: Prove you?re not a crazy dog lady by dressing your pet as Miley Cyrus.

6:45 p.m.: Grab a candle and help light the 32,000 pumpkins again. Hold your breath. Keene, New Hampshire? You?re going down.

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