The Show: Circleville Festival Celebrates Pumpkins In A Big Way

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Residents of Circleville, Ohio, really like their pumpkins. Seriously.

It’s known as “the greatest free show on earth” and is believed to be the biggest festival in the United States dedicated to the pumpkin. This year’s Circleville Pumpkin Show will be held October 16 – 19 in downtown Circleville.

For 110 years residents have gathered every October to go a little pumpkin crazy. It all started in 1903 when Mayor George Haswell decided to hold a small pumpkin and corn exhibit in front of his store to celebrate the local harvest. It featured corn, carved pumpkins and other harvest-themed displays.

Locals started calling it “the pumpkin show” and in following years other merchants joined in and the event has been held every year since, with the exception of one year during World War I and two years during World War II.

Circleville, Ohio’s population will swell from 12,000 permanent residents to more than 400,000 visitors during the four-day celebration. Attendees come for parades (there’s seven of them!), entertainment and, of course, lots and lots of pumpkins and pumpkin-themed foods.

The show begins with weigh-ins of giant pumpkins. Farmers spend months growing their giant pumpkins in hopes that they will be crowned the winner. It’s not uncommon to see pumpkins top 1,000 pounds; last year’s winning giant pumpkin topped 1,315 pounds and have weighed more than 1,600 pounds in previous years.

How do you get a giant pumpkin from the vine to the event? Here's a great photo montage to show you the process. 

You’ll also see “the world’s largest pumpkin pie” prepared by a local bakery. The pumpkin pie is six feet in diameter and weighs more than 400 pounds. What does it take to make a giant pumpkin pie? It’ll take 100 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 40 pounds of sugar, 26 gallons of milk, 15 dozen eggs, and 42 pounds of pie dough. The giant pie will have to bake for six hours and will be fed to local hogs in the area after the event.

Visitors will consume approximately 23,000 pumpkin pies and more than 100,000 pumpkin donuts during the event. There’s plenty of pumpkin treats to try: pumpkin pancakes, cookies, burgers, chili, taffy, ice cream, cake, waffles, cream puffs, fudge, brownies and pumpkin blossoms are just a sampling of items available.

What else can you expect to see? More than 100,000 pounds of pumpkins, squash and gourds are featured on the street display.

Get there early. The crowds will be large and parking may be an issue. But, the large crowds mean one thing – the pumpkin goodies are worth it.