It’s the Great Pumpkin, Ohio!

Boy painting pumpkin Toledo, Ohio from ca. 1990. Courtesy of Toledo Lucas County Public Library. Via Ohio Memory

Fall has arrived with a chill in the air and the smell of fire pits, beautiful changing leaves, and of course pumpkins! Just like September in Ohio is all about apples, October is full of pumpkin festivals, parades, and contests.

Miss Pumpkin Queen, from October 1968. Courtesy of Ohio History Connection. Via Ohio Memory.

The Circleville Pumpkin Show is one of the largest festivals in the Midwest, with an annual attendance in four days and nights of over 300,000 persons and its claim to being the “Greatest Free Show on Earth” as no admission charge or entry fee is made. The pumpkin show dates back to 1903 when local mayor George R. Haswell decided to organize a pumpkin-and-corn exhibit in front of his store. In 1905, the amusement rides were added to the festival, and it has grown even more over the years. In 1946 a non-profit corporation, the Circleville Pumpkin Show, Inc., was formed for the operation of the Pumpkin Show and any profits to be derived from the Show was to be used for the betterment of the citizens. Several thousands of dollars have been turned over to the City of Circleville for community projects since the formation of the corporation.

College of Mount St. Joseph students carving pumpkins, from ca. 1979-1980. Courtesy of Mount St. Joseph University. Via Ohio Memory.

Currently, most events of the festival take place in downtown Circleville, occupying 12 blocks, between South Scioto and Pickaway Streets, as well as Watt/Pinckney and Franklin Street on the south.   The festival starts with a weigh-in of giant pumpkins. In 2014, the record largest pumpkin of 1,964 lbs. was presented at the show. Usually, the winner of the festival is heavier than 1,000 lbs. Another attraction of the festival is a giant pumpkin pie. Each year Lindsey’s Bakery prepares a huge pumpkin pie 6 feet in diameter, weighing over 400 pounds and is on display in their bakery on West Main Street. In 2006, the pie had the official title of the world’s largest. There is also a Miss Pumpkin Show Queen pageant and seven parades that hit the streets. More than 50 floats and 50 bands participate in the parades throughout the show.

Other festivals and shows throughout Ohio include The Great Westerville Pumpkin Glow, with over 1,500 glowing pumpkins, Red Wagon Farm Pumpkin Festival in Columbia Station with a corn maze and wagon rides, Minges and Weber Family Pumpkin Festival in Harrison with live music and over 180 arts and craft exhibitors, and so many more! We’re sure you can find the perfect pumpkin patch or fun fall fest for the whole family to enjoy in an area near you!

Thank you to Ashely Rodriguez, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!

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