CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio – The “Greatest Free Show on Earth” celebrated its 113th anniversary this year. Technically, the Pumpkin Show began in 1903. According to the Pumpkin Show’s website, it has grown to become the 6th largest festival in the nation, averaging between 300,000 and 400,000 visitors, weather permitting.
One of the biggest draws for locals and visitors alike is viewing the grand champion pumpkin. Often the winner is Dr. Bob Liggett, and he didn’t disappoint this year either. His grand champion weighed in at 1,421.5 pounds. The second place winner was Mark Litz whose pumpkin weighed 1,174.5 pounds. Bringing home the 3rd place victory was a familiar family name, Bella Liggett, granddaughter of Dr. Liggett, who raised a 1,130.5 pound squash.
According to Fox21 News, the heaviest pumpkin ever grown in the United States was from New Hampshire last year and it weighed 2,528 pounds. The largest in the world was a Belgium fruit at 2,624 pounds three years ago.
The Show is also famous for its activities. There are two parades each day, except for Saturday when there is only one. The parade schedule includes Wednesday’s Little Miss Pumpkin Show and Miss Pumpkin Show parades, while Thursday hosts the Baby Parade in the afternoon and the Parade of Bands in the evening.
Friday’s parades featured pets in the afternoon and fraternal and civic organizations, which included churches, Shriners, floats and more in the evening. The Circleville Police Department had big news to share for Friday night’s parade, “We’re proud to announce that tonight, Columbus Police Mounted Unit will be breaking parade. This is a first in Pumpkin Show history,” the posted on Facebook.
The Queen’s Parade was Saturday night and wrapped up the four-day-long event.
Attendees not only have access to all kinds of pumpkin-flavored delicacies, but a myriad of fair food options, the pumpkin pyramid, carnival games, dozens of rides and the world’s largest pumpkin pie at Lindsey’s Bakery, which is also famous for pumpkin doughnuts. There are tents filled with goods for sale, often pumpkin-shaped or colored, as well as free information. There was even a life-size Donald Trump cut-out posed for photos at the Pickaway County Republican booth.
Circleville’s State Representative, Ron Hood (R-Ashville), said he enjoyed taking his children to the Pumpkin Show. “The kids love the rides, the food and the parades. We love being there. Circleville has always hosted the ‘Greatest Free Show on Earth’ and it’s important to remember it is the Pumpkin Show,” Hood emphasized. “Never call it a Pumpkin Festival, or we’ll be quick to correct you.”
One vendor from Fairfield County, Jenn Wöken, whose family sells pumpkin coffee and deep-fried, Amish-made pumpkin pies, shared her experience with The Ohio Star. “It’s been a consistently good crowd, busy every single day because the weather has been good. Average attendance is around 400,000 – I expect this year to be more.”
When asked what she liked best about the Pumpkin Show, Wöken’s 15-year-old daughter Emé said, “It brings families together.”
Next year the 114th Circleville Pumpkin Show will be October 21 through the 24.
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