King Pumpkin: 1,476 pounds

KING PUMPKIN was crowned and Barnesville native Todd Skinner won his fifth title with his 1,476-pound orange pumpkin as the 2013 Barnesville Pumpkin Festival kicked off with the weigh-ins Wednesday night.

Once again Skinner was disappointed that it was not a record-breaker, but it was his personal best. Skinner had won the state title for largest pumpkin back in August at the Ohio State Fair. The 1,050-pound entry missed that record by just 6 pounds.

“I was 28 pounds shy tonight,” said Skinner. “I am more disappointed because this is Darren’s last year and I wanted him to go out with a bang.”

Skinner was referring to his friend and weigh-off chairman Darren Miller, who announced that after 30 years heading the weigh-ins he was hanging up the microphone.

Miller took over the weigh-ins back in 1984. “Back then I was also on the unloading crew, I would wake up Thursday morning with a sore back.”

Miller recalled King Pumpkin was just 434 pounds in 1984, last year there were just 12 pumpkins entered, this year that total was surpassed in less than one hour.

“Tonight Todd and Donna’s entry was slightly smaller than last year’s record but we had more pumpkins, a good variety. It was a nice show.”

Skinner will receive a cash prize of $1 per pound for his giant pumpkin, a $100 locally grown prize and the King Pumpkin trophy. This also marks the first year that the Barnesville show is a fully vested member of the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, and Skinner also received a plaque for his winning entry.

“The rain took its toll this year,” said Skinner, explaining that keeping the vines dry is key. “We use fans even in the rain and a special drying compound on the vines everyday.”

Despite the extra effort, the vines split on all four of Skinners’ plants. “We had the main vine die on the biggest one, which we took to the State Fair and managed to get one plant to survive.”

“I am very proud to represent Barnesville again,” added Skinner, who works each year as a pumpkin lifter for the weigh-ins and is a member of the Pumpkin Festival committee. “It is always good to see the trophy come back home.”

Second place in the Giant Pumpkin category (more than 400 pounds) went to Jerry Rose of Huntsburg, Ohio with a 1,192-pound giant. Don Chambers of Wheeling took third place with his 1,130-pound entry.

Erik Gunstrom of Monongahela, Pa. was voted best looking trophy with his 792 and one-half pound giant.

Michelle Verhoff of Massillon entered the winner of the 400-pound category with a pumpkin that weighed 362.5 pounds. The winner of the 300-pound category was Lilly Kinney of Quaker City with a 286.5-pound entry, and the family also won the 200-pound category, as brother Jameson won that weight class with a 188.5-pound pumpkin. The 100-pound category winner was Carol Carpenter of Barnesville with a nice orange pumpkin that weighed in at 90 and one half pounds. Carpenter won the 100 pound trophy in 2011.

Miller will be honored during the official opening ceremonies as he will cut the ceremonial ribbon today at 5 p.m., and trophies will be presented to the King Pumpkin winners at that time.

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

Palmer may be reached at