- When: October 18 – 21, 2023 (always 3rd Wednesday through Saturday of October)
- Location: (Map It) Circleville, Ohio
- Web: www.pumpkinshow.com
Circleville Pumpkin Show in Circleville, Ohio: Great pumpkins Charlie Brown; this is said to be Ohio’s oldest and largest pumpkin celebration. It hosts seven different parades in half as many days. This includes the Pumpkin Parade, Pet Parade, and Baby Parade, to name a few. The events also include a Big Wheel Race, the world’s largest pumpkin pie, a pumpkin toss, a pie-eating competition, and Fun Show. Additional contests of interest include hog calling, egg toss, and pumpkin carving. Many displays, arts, crafts, and live entertainment also accompany the festivities, as well as plenty of pumpkins, squash, and gourds.
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler
It’s the “Greatest Free Show on Earth.” That’s what the promoters of Circleville’s festivities contend, and no one argues the point. Furthermore, it’s the sixth-largest festival of any kind in the whole country, with attendance over four days soaring to 400,000 fun-loving people.
If Charley Brown is still looking for the “Great Pumpkin” this fall, he needs only to extricate himself from the comic strip and come to the Pickaway county seat because that’s what all the clamor is about—pumpkins—really great pumpkins.
Since this event was started in 1903 by the city mayor with a single display of corn stalks and pumpkins, it has grown to a street fair that covers eight city blocks filled with twenty-five or more amusement rides and over three hundred food booths, games, and craft vendors. There are daily parades, the obligatory beauty contest, and constant entertainment performed on three different stages from early morning until threatened by the midnight hour.
Regardless of the many activities vying for your attention, the main theme of pumpkins never wanders far from awareness. The emphasis begins early the first day with the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-In on Main Street. If you’re thinking of bringing that nicely matured 80 lb. orange globe from your garden to enter in the competition, forget about it. These pumpkins are trucked in, usually one at a time, and off-loaded with heavy equipment. Behemoths weighing 400 to 500 pounds are as common as Thanksgiving pies, and Dr. Robert Liggett, who has won several times, set the record in 2004 with a prodigious contribution from his special patch tipping the scales at 1353 pounds. Holy jumpin Jehoshaphat!
In 1946, seeing that their fair was growing by leaps and bounds, the citizens of Circleville formed a non-profit corporation exclusively for the operation of the pumpkin show. The show is self-supporting, with all profits turned over to the city for community projects. Their mission statement—pointing proudly to the “no gate, no ticket” policy—can be summed up with the intent to promote goodwill among Pickaway county residents and all who visit—of which the perennial success seems self-evident.
Every year the fair starts on the third Wednesday of October and runs through Saturday night. There are both afternoon and evening parades, with more than forty floats and fifty bands participating. Stage performing music groups range from country pop to gospel, jazz, rock, and youth bands. There are cooking demos, dance extravaganzas, an egg toss, a pumpkin toss, and a demonstration by a gentleman who bills himself as Gus the Squashcarver, who has elevated pumpkin sculpture to an art form.
Adding to the colossal feats of nature, consider the effort taken by Lindsey’s Bakery each year in throwing together and displaying their gigantic 6-foot diameter, 400-pound pumpkin pie. Supplemental to the 100 pounds of pumpkin are ingredients of 26 gallons of milk, 15 dozen eggs, and 42 pounds of dough baked for six hours.
Events fill every hour of every day—far too many to mention here—but among them, annual favorites are the pumpkin pie eating contest and hog calling. As you may surmise, the Circleville Pumpkin Show is all about old-fashioned, unpretentious fun.
There will be more than 20,000 pumpkin pies for sale and in excess of 100,000 pounds of pumpkins on display. By the time you leave, you’ll be fed up with pumpkins—that doesn’t mean melancholy—it’s just that everything you’re fed is pumpkin flavored—donuts, pancakes, cookies, ice cream, cake, fudge, cream puffs, even burgers. If you want to burn off some of those calories, bring your running shoes. There is a five-mile run usually scheduled for Saturday morning—you may need it.
To schedule your visit to the day or days of favorite activities, call 740-474-7000 or check the websitewww.pumpkinshow.com for a full calendar of events.
Getting to Circleville is easy. It’s just off of Route 23, about twenty miles south of Columbus. Before you see the signs, you’ll recognize the water tower painted like a pumpkin—stem and all. Don’t want to drive? There are more than thirty bus tours that stop at the show. Information on the tours is also available through the above phone listing.
Oh, and if your thinking of waiting around for a piece of that 400-pound pie, forget about that too. They feed that to the hogs they call in.
By Robert Carpenter