King Pumpkin sets Ohio record

Local growers win Pumpkin Fest contest for seventh time

T-L Photo/JENNIFER COMPSTON-STROUGH Todd and Donna Skinner of Barnesville are dwarfed by the 2,150-pound gourd they grew to capture the title of King Pumpkin on Wednesday.

BARNESVILLE — A pretty, pale-orange gourd shattered local and state records Wednesday, becoming the heaviest King Pumpkin ever at 2,150 pounds.

Hundreds of people gathered at the intersection of Main and Chestnut streets held their breath as an enormous orb grown by Todd and Donna Skinner of Barnesville was hoisted onto the official Pumpkin Festival scale. The couple arrived with their entry at 8:53 p.m., just seven minutes before the close of the contest at 9 p.m., creating a good deal of suspense for the enthusiastic onlookers.

Tim Miller, festival committee president, uttered just one word when he got his first glimpse of the pumpkin’s official weight: “Wow!”

“You are talking about a monstrous pumpkin here,” he said, prolonging the suspense before announcing that the fruit had tipped the scale at more than 2,000 pounds. He became even more excited as he announced that the Skinners’ entry had set a new Ohio state record. The previous state record was 2,058 pounds.

The feat was nothing new for the local couple. They grew last year’s King Pumpkin, which weighed in at 1,739 pounds, and set an Ohio State Fair record earlier this year with a pumpkin weighing 1,621.5 pounds. This year’s victory marks the seventh time the Skinners have raised Barnesville’s King Pumpkin.

Todd Skinner said it took 170 days to grow this year’s winner. The plant grew for 70 days before it produced the pumpkin, which grew for another 100 days before Wednesday. He noted he and his wife leave just one pumpkin on each plant in order to raise the biggest pumpkins possible.

Otherwise, he said there are four keys to success in growing award-winning pumpkins: a lot of hard work, good genetic seeds, balanced nutrition and four to five hours’ worth of daily care. The reward for all that effort is a cash prize of $2 per pound, totaling $4,300 for this particular entry.

The new reigning king measured 215 inches in circumference, according to Skinner, and came from a plant that reached 750 square feet in size. The gourd’s stem appeared to be about as big around as a human head.

The second-place entry was grown by Andy Mosher of Lakeville, Ohio, and weighed in at 1,568 pounds. Third place went to Todd Cotterman of Fenton, Mich., with a 1,512-pound gourd.

The massive squash will reign over the 54th annual Barnesville Pumpkin Festival, which officially gets underway at 5 p.m. today. The event continues in the downtown through the entire weekend, with carnival rides, numerous vendors, the 5K Pumpkin Run/Walk at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, the Giant Pumpkin Parade at 1:45 p.m. Saturday and a wide variety of activities. The events conclude at 5 p.m. Sunday.