7 Fun Things To Do At The 2022 Barnesville Pumpkin Festival
The 58th Annual Barnesville Pumpkin Festival is right around the corner on Sept. 22-25. An estimated 100,000 people will visit this village, with a population of only about 4,000. This four-day event includes excellent food and fun contests, a huge car show, a giant pumpkin parade, a 5K run and walk, the crowning of the 2022 King Pumpkin, and so much more! Here are seven things you don’t want to miss at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival.
1. See the King Weigh–Off - The festival starts on Sept. 22, but the excitement begins the night before when the King Pumpkin is crowned. The anticipation builds as growers from all over Ohio and surrounding states line up with their giant pumpkins. The crowd anxiously awaits the results as the pumpkins are lifted onto the scales. Those with enormous pumpkins typically wait until the end. They will be trying to beat the festival and state record of Dillonvale’s Jeff Theil, whose 2021 pumpkin tipped the scales at 2,195 pounds! The Founders Cup will be given to the grower of the largest locally grown pumpkin. The best-looking pumpkin is also awarded, judging by audience participation. If you can’t make it in person, visit the Belmont County Tourism Facebook page from 6-9 pm for regular updates. The top three are proudly displayed front and center on the main street where most festival action takes place. Getting your picture taken with the winner is an annual tradition for festival goers. The pumpkin tower, located farther down the street, is another popular photo backdrop.
2. Honor Our Veterans - The Eyes of Freedom traveling service memorial is returning to the Pumpkin Festival this year. The installation was conceived to honor Lima Company of Lima, Ohio — a Marine company that suffered severe losses during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The memorial now travels nationwide in memory of all who have served and sacrificed for our country, with an additional focus on veterans with PTSD and other mental health issues. Arriving with motorcycle escort for installation on Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 7 pm, the memorial will open for public viewing in the Barnesville Middle School cafeteria from 12-8 pm Thurs.-Sat. And 10 am-6 pm on Sunday.
3. See a Giant Pumpkin Carving -Squashcarver Gus Smithhisler will return to the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival on Thursday, Sept. 22. See a live giant pumpkin carving demonstration beginning at 1 pm at the King Pumpkin Stand. Smithhisler is a nationally-recognized professional pumpkin carver and food artist specializing in giant pumpkins, cheese, Jack-o Lanterns, and 3D sculpture. He was on Halloween Wars Season 6 on the Food Network. His work has also been displayed at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, Franklin Park Conservatory, the Ohio State Fair, the Circleville Pumpkin Show, and many others events, attractions, and venues across the country.
4. Watch the Giant Pumpkin Parade - Saturday's main event is the Giant Pumpkin Parade, kicking off at 12:45 pm. Over a mile, the parade travels through town with marching bands, dancers, festival royalty, antique cars and tractors, horses, and pumpkin-themed floats. Trophies are awarded to Best Float, Best Group, Best Horse/Rider(s), Best Horse Drawn, Best Royalty, Best Tractor, Best Pumpkin Theme, Best Car, and Unique. Beginning around 1 pm on Sept. 24, there will be live updates from the parade on Belmont County Tourism’s Facebook page.
5. Enter a contest. One of the best ways to experience the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival is to enter one of the many contests held during the four-day event. With a bit of planning, you could enter: the talent show, fiddle, banjo, mandolin contest, beard and mustache contest, 5 K race, pet show, car show, pumpkin mascot contest, decorated pumpkin contest, horticulture contest, pie baking contest, or fudge baking contest. Contests you could enter the day of include: the pumpkin pie eating contest, tall tales contest, hog calling contest, tobacco spitting contest, kiddie tractor pull, and the pumpkin roll contest (in which you use a green stick to push a pumpkin down the street). Except for the 5K race and the car show, there is no fee to enter contests. Check out the full schedule.
6. Eat something pumpkin. The Barnesville Pumpkin Festival offers a variety of delicious food and many pumpkin-flavored options, including pie, fudge, bread, donuts, and ice cream. Stop by the Barnesville Area Chamber of Commerce's Pumpkin Wagon for pumpkin pie, donuts, and ice cream. Like the pumpkin wagon, many food vendors are local non-profit organizations, so you can't go wrong with whatever you pick. (We recommend the Barnesville Rotary Club's fish sandwich, Olney Friends School pumpkin bread, and the Shekinah Church beef and noodles).
7. Grow your own giant pumpkin. The harvesting of seeds from some of the giant pumpkins entered into the contest is done at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The seeds are free, but you can also purchase seeds any time during the festival at the information booth. In addition to having festival programs, the information booth sells festival merchandise such as t-shirts, pins, coffee cups, hats, and other items. The King is also auctioned off on Sunday. This is a fun event to watch as well. The winning bidder(s) proudly display the King in front of their business for several weeks after the festival.
The festival also offers crafts, a flea market, a farmers market, a farm machinery display and tractor cruise, rides, games, live music on two stages, a quilt show at the Belmont County Victorian Mansion Museum, and a book sale at the Watt Center For History & The Arts. Downtown shops are open during the festival and offer a variety of pumpkin decorations, shirts, and other items. A free shuttle service is provided. A map of all the festival action can be found here.