Top 6 things to do at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival

Special to the Enterprise

The 57th annual Barnesville Pumpkin Festival is taking place this weekend. This four-day event includes great food and contests, a huge car show, a giant pumpkin parade, 5K run and walk, crowning of the 2021 King Pumpkin, and more.

Here are the Top 6 things you don’t want to miss at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival.

The weigh-off determines the King Pumpkin and is the unofficial start to the festival.

1. The Weigh-Off —The festival starts on Thursday, but the excitement begins the night before when the King Pumpkin is crowned. The anticipation builds as growers from all over Ohio and surrounding states line-up with their giant pumpkins. As the pumpkins are lifted onto the scales, the crowd anxiously awaits the results. Those with the largest pumpkins typically wait until the end. They will be trying to beat the festival and state record of Barnesville’s Todd and Donna Skinner whose 2017 pumpkin tipped the scales at 2,150 pounds! The Founders Cup will be given to the grower of the largest locally grown pumpkin. The award is sponsored by the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival in honor of the Martin Schumacher (one of the festival co-founders) family. A prize is also given for the best looking pumpkin, judged by audience participation. If you can’t make it in person, the weigh-off will be broadcast live on the Belmont County Tourism Facebook page Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m.

The ribbon cutting and opening ceremony kicks of the festival on Thursday.

2. The Ribbon Cutting — It's all about the festival royalty at the official opening ceremony and ribbon cutting on Thursday at 5 p.m. At this kick-off event the 2021 Queen, Princess and Mini Miss are presented. The King Pumpkin Trophy, The Founders Cup, and the Second and Third place trophies will be presented. WTOV Severe Weather Team 9 Meteorologist Nathan Shutt will be cutting the ribbon this year. Nathan is a native of Coshocton County, Ohio. He is no stranger to Barnesville, as both parents are Shamrock alumni.

After the ribbon cutting, stay for the Talent Show at 5:30pm on the Central Stage, and the Pumpkin Baby and Little Miss and Mr. contests, beginning at 6:30pm at the First Christian Church. The winners will be presented at 7:30pm at the King Pumpkin Area.

The festival features a variety of live music every afternoon and evening.

3. The Entertainment & Squash Carver — Squashcarver Gus Smithhisler will have his first event of the season at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival on Friday, Sept. 24. See a live giant pumpkin carving demonstration from 3 to 9 p.m. at the King Pumpkin Stand. Smithhisler is a nationally-recognized, professional pumpkin carver and food artist, specializing in giant pumpkins, cheese, Jack-o Lanterns and 3D sculpture. Located in Columbus, Ohio, he is an OSU alum. He was on Halloween Wars Season 6 on the Food Network and his work has also been displayed at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, Franklin Park Conservatory, the Ohio State Fair, the Circleville Pumpkin Show, and many other events, attractions, and venues across the country.

The festival is filled with live music. Every afternoon and evening features a variety of music including country, bluegrass, rock-n-roll, and gospel on the Central and Pumpkin stages. The Voices of Ohio will perform on Sunday from 1:30-3pm at the Presbyterian Church on North Chestnut St. A fiddle, banjo, and mandolin contest takes place at 2pm Sunday on the Central Stage. Downtown restaurants, bars, and social clubs also feature live music.

The Giant Pumpkin Parade begins at 12:45 p.m. Saturday.

4. The Giant Pumpkin Parade — With a new starting time this year at 12:45 p.m., the parade begins from the Barnesville High School parking lot, travels west on Main Street, and north on Chestnut Street, to Victorian Mansion Museum, 532 N. Chestnut St. Longtime festival photographer Reed Tychonski has received the honor of Grand Marshal. The parade will be held rain or shine. 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. The parade will be broadcast on the Belmont County Tourism’s Facebook page.

5. Eyes of Freedom — The Eyes of Freedom traveling service memorial will be on display during Pumpkin Festival weekend. The installation was conceived to honor Lima Company of Lima, Ohio — a Marine company that suffered severe losses during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The memorial now travels nationwide in memory of all who have served and sacrificed for our country, with an additional focus on veterans suffering from PTSD and other mental health issues. The memorial will be set up at the Barnesville Middle School cafeteria from 12-8pm Thurs.-Sat. and 10am-3pm on Sunday.

The Victorian Mansion Museum will feature a quilt show during the festival.

6. Museums and historic sites – During the festival be sure to visit the Watt Center For History & The Arts , 511 Watt Ave., Thursday -Sunday and take advantage of their annual book sale. The Belmont County Victorian Mansion Museum, 532 N. Chestnut St., is open Friday-Sunday during the festival and features a quilt display. The historic B&O Train Depot, 300 E. Church St., features miniature train rides for children, craft and food vendors, and children’s activities.

While in Barnesville, be sure to stop at Dickinson Cattle Co., 3500 Muskrat Road, for a tour of this working cattle ranch. Here you can see herds of Texas Longhorn, BueLingo, and African Watusi cattle and shop for Longhorn beef and other products in the Longhorn Heads to Tails store.

— Submitted by the Belmont County Tourism Council.