Top 5 Things to See/Do at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival
1. Take a selfie with the King Pumpkin. The 56th Annual Barnesville Pumpkin Festival will be September 26-29, 2019. During that time an estimated 100,000 people will walk the streets of this village that has a population of only about 4,000. The "King" is crowned during a Great Pumpkin Commonwealth weigh-off that takes place the evening prior to the Thursday festival kick off. The top pumpkins can weigh in excess of 2,000 pounds and the top three are proudly displayed front and center on main street where most of the festival action takes place. Getting your picture taken with winner is an annual tradition for festival goers. The pumpkin tower, located farther down the street, is another popular back drop for photos.
2. Get a piece of pumpkin pie with ice cream from the Pumpkin Wagon. The Barnesville Pumpkin Festival offers a variety of delicious food and many pumpkin flavored options. If you want to get a true taste of the festival, stop by the Barnesville Area Chamber of Commerce's Pumpkin Wagon for pumpkin pie, donuts, and ice cream. Like the pumpkin wagon, many of the food vendors are local non-profit organizations so you really can't go wrong with whatever you pick. (I recommend the Rotary Club's fish sandwich, Olney Friends School pumpkin bread, and the Shekinah Church beef and noodles).
3. Watch the Giant Pumpkin parade. Held on Saturday at 2 p.m. (Get there at least an hour earlier to avoid traffic and get a good viewing spot.), the Giant Pumpkin Parade features hundreds of entrants including floats, horses, cars, tractors, area festival royalty, marching bands, and dancers. Pumpkin 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. Plan to spend a few hours at the festival after the parade as the roads are closed from 1-5 p.m. for the parade.
4. 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. If you plan ahead, you could enter: the talent contest, fiddle, banjo, and 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. If you happen to come on the day of one of the following contests and are feeling spontaneous, you could enter: the tall tales contest, hog calling contest, tobacco spitting contest, and the pumpkin roll contest (in which you use a green stick to push a pumpkin down the street). For a complete schedule of contests visit http://barnesvillepumpkinfestival.com/schedule2019.pdf .
5. Get seeds to take home and 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.
In addition to all of the above mentioned activities, the festival also offers crafts, a flea market, farmers market, rides and games, a quilt show, book sale, and daily entertainment. Downtown shops are also open during the festival and offer a variety of pumpkin decorations, shirts, and other items. With the exception of the 5K race and the car show, there is no fee to enter any of the contests. A free shuttle service is also offered. Contests held prior to the festival include the royalty contests, and window, home and business decorating contests. A map of all the festival action can be found here: http://barnesvillepumpkinfestival.com/docs/2017-BPF-
All photos courtesy of Barnesville Pumpkin Festival photographer Reed Tychonski.