Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off kicks off Barnesville Pumpkin Festival
Even though the 56th Annual Barnesville Pumpkin Festival officially begins on Thursday, Sept. 26 for four days of everything pumpkin, the excitement really starts the night before with the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off where growers from across the state and beyond compete to have their pumpkins crowned as the “King”.
As part of the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, the contest is held from 6-9 p.m. and offers prizes for first through ninth place. The first place, “King” prize nets the grower $2 per pound. That might not sound like a lot, but the largest (and locally grown) pumpkin at the festival weighed in at 2,150 pounds! Grown by Barnesville residents, Todd and Donna Skinner, the pumpkin broke the festival record and the state record for 2017. Click here for a video of the dramatic weigh-in https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1851112411573123&id=155143581170023.
Additional prize categories include: Heaviest Locally Grown Pumpkin (an additional $100 and the Founder’s Cup Trophy); Best Looking Pumpkin (voted on by the crowd with a prize of the GPC Howard Dill Award Ribbon); Heaviest Squash 1st Place ( GPC Heaviest Squash Ribbon).
The excitement is palpable and continues to build throughout the weigh-off, as those growers with the biggest pumpkins typically wait to weigh-in. The pumpkins are picked up off the trucks with a crane and placed on a special scale. By the time the heavy hitters roll in, the area near the scale is full of beautiful orange, white and yellow pumpkins of all shapes and sizes.
The festival queen, princess and mini miss are also on hand for the festivities. The entire event is commentated by John Rataiczak, the official “voice” of the festival.
When the festival begins the next day, the King Pumpkin is proudly displayed at the front of the main area of the festival where over 100,000 annual festival goers pass by it and stop for an obligatory selfie. The top three trophies are officially awarded during the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday evening.
On Sunday, when the festival wraps up, the King Pumpkin is auctioned off to the highest bidder. For the next few weeks, the bidder or group of bidders display the pumpkin in front of their local business.
Held Sept. 26-29, the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival features a parade, 5K race, pet show, car show, craft and food vendors, farmers market, amusement rides and games, talent show, daily musical entertainment, tall tales contest, horticulture contest, tobacco spitting contest, beard and mustache contest, hog calling contest, pumpkin mascot contest, pumpkin baby contest, pie and fudge baking contests, pumpkin pie eating contest, pumpkin rolling contest, quilt show (at the Belmont County Victorian Mansion Museum), book sale (at the Watt Center for History & The Arts), art show, decorated pumpkin contest, farm machinery display, flea market, home and business decorating contest, and banjo and fiddle contest. This year will also feature a pumpkin carving demonstration on Friday from 3-9 p.m. For more information visit http://www.barnesvillepumpkinfestival.com.