King Neptune

BARNESVILLE – It was a record-breaking night in Barnesville as 28,669 pounds, more than 14 tons of pumpkins, tipped the scales unofficially, kicking off the 2009 Barnesville Pumpkin Festival Wednesday.

Shattering the previous record for King Pumpkin was Bill Neptune of New Concord, whose giant tipped the crane truck pulling one wheel off the ground as it strained to lift the new record holder that tipped the scales at 1,503 pounds.

Neptune’s entry fell just short of the Ohio state record held by Bob Liggett of Circleville who set the bar at 1,524.5 pounds in 2007. Brooks Bosworth of St Clairsville had the previous record for Barnesville with his 2007 entry of 1,289.5 pounds.

“We are all very excited,” said Neptune, as a crowd of family and friends cheered his victory. “We did some things different this year,” added the new Pumpkin King, “We added a new drip irrigation watering system.” Neptune will receive a cash prize of $1 per pound for his giant pumpkin and the King Pumpkin trophy.

David McMullen of Monaca, Pa. earned second place in the giant pumpkin category (more than 400 pounds) with his 1,240-pound pumpkin.

Mike Helburg and Jerry Dishong of Nelsonville, Ohio placed third with their 1,220-pound orange giant. Last year’s winner, Todd Skinner of Barnesville, finished fifth.

Several of the long-time pumpkin festival patrons also estimated that the crowd for the weigh-ins was a record.

“I have been to every Pumpkin Festival since 1964,” said Hubert Cook, speaking for the group of regulars gathered along side the scales. “This has to be the biggest crowd we have ever had for weigh-ins.”

The official opening ceremonies and ribbon-cutting will take place today at 5 p.m. as The Times Leader Area Editor and Barnesville native Betty Pokas will do the honors. Today is also ride all night for $9.

The Giant Pumpkin parade is Saturday at 2 p.m. and the Sunday schedule features a car show.

Palmer may be reached at