Barnesville gears up for pumpkin festival

BARNESVILLE – If Henry David Thoreau, famed for “Walden,” had lived longer, he’d have had a great time in Barnesville tonight and in the coming days.

Thoreau once noted, “I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

The famed writer and naturalist would have plenty of places to sit – and rather large seats – if he could have attended the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival. He lived, however, in the 1800s so he didn’t have a chance to attend the Barnesville pumpkin extravaganza which will reach the half century mark next year.

If Thoreau could have been in Ohio tonight through Sunday, he’d have had the opportunity to see larger pumpkin “seats” than he ever anticipated.

No one knows how large the entries will be tonight in the King Pumpkin Weigh-In, slated to begin at 6, but usually there are some giants. It isn’t unusual for the large orbs to weigh more than 1,000 pounds, and at least one of them in the past topped the 1,500-pound mark.

Although the four-day festival doesn’t open officially until Thursday at 5 p.m., there won’t be a scarcity of pumpkins and pumpkin-related activities tonight and Thursday during the day in the western Belmont County community.

In addition to the weigh-in, Pumpkin Alley and Pumpkin Porch, both featuring crafts and gifts, will be open tonight until 10. Offering pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin doughnuts and pumpkin pies tonight until 9 will be the Pumpkin Wagon.

The festival’s information booth will be open tonight from 6-9. Quilt show entries are being accepted today until 6 p.m. while art show entries will be accepted until 7.

Barnesville’s police department went into action earlier this week to block off an area of Main Street as priority is given to pumpkins for a four-day period.

The King Pumpkin competition draws entries from a variety of locations, and the prospective royalty requires special handling.

Although King Pumpkin has to await his crown tonight, a festival queen, princess and mini miss were selected at a pageant Sunday night.

Reigning as festival queen is Shelby Childress, daughter of Tracey and Gary Childress and a senior at Union Local High School.

Savanna Mayhugh, daughter of Robin and Joe Mayhugh and a Barnesville fifth grader, is the new princess, while Grace Detling, daughter of Becky and Jeremie Detling and a Barnesville fourth grader, was chosen as the mini miss.

The new pumpkin royalty will be presented Thursday during the opening ceremonies and Saturday at 4:30 p.m. They also will participate in an ever-popular event – the Giant Pumpkin Parade – Saturday at 1:45 p.m.

Musical entertainment, a variety of food at various locations, an old farm machinery display, contests involving pumpkins, a book sale, a talent show, art show, quilt show, Pumpkin Baby Contest and Little Miss and Mr. Contest are among the activities on tap Thursday.

The festival will continue to gain momentum Friday, and additional activities such as a new farm machinery display, flea market, the Barnesville Railroad Depot with specialty crafts as well as food and miniature train rides, and other activities are scheduled.

Saturday’s activities will begin especially early with registration for the 5K Pumpkin Run/Walk from 6:45-8:15 a.m.

Although one of the events planned Saturday is a tall tales contest, no one is spinning a tall tale when it is reported that even more activities are scheduled during the weekend to delight festival-goers.

Among Sunday’s activities will be an antique and classic car show, additional competitions and a horseshoe tournament. A procession of antique and classic car show entrants will be that day at 4:30 p.m., and the awarding of the third annual pumpkin crock at 5 will conclude the festive activities.

Pokas can be reached at