By CASEY JUNKINS
BARNESVILLE - For nearly 50 years, crowds have packed village streets every fall for the popular Barnesville Pumpkin Festival.
This year should be no different, as the festival is set for the downtown area Sept. 27-30.
"It's almost like a homecoming of sorts," Village Administrator Roger Deal said of the festival. "I know I'll see people at the festival who I won't get to see any other time of the year."
Always held during the last full weekend in September, the event includes four days of fun-filled contests, entertainment, tastes, sights and sounds.
It started in 1963 in the basement of a Catholic church and has evolved from a small street fair to a top event with visitors attending from all over the United States.
Though the festival features a variety of food and contests, the focus is on the competition to see who can grow the largest pumpkin - with the winning gourd oftentimes topping out at up to 1,500 pounds.
Beyond growing the pumpkins, many patrons can't wait to taste the famous pumpkin ice cream or pumpkin cake.
This year's festival will feature both agricultural and horticultural displays, a classic car show, an art show, farm machinery displays, the Giant Pumpkin Parade, the King Pumpkin Auction, a book sale, a quilt show, a tractor cruise and retail window displays. There will also be amusement rides and crafts for younger patrons.
The schedule for this year's festival is as follows:
-? Talent show, 6 p.m.
-? Pumpkin Baby presentation, 6:30 p.m.
-? Little Miss & Mister presentation, 7 p.m.
-? Pizza eating contest, 4 p.m.
- Pumpkin roll, 5 p.m.
-? Beard and moustache contest, 5:30 p.m.
-? Hog calling contest, 6 p.m.
-? Tobacco spitting contest, 6:30 p.m.
-? Car show, 9 a.m.
-? Fiddle, banjo and mandolin, noon
The Giant Pumpkin Parade is set for 2 p.m., Sept. 29, rain or shine. All bands, businesses, horses, church groups, clubs or other organizations that wish to participate in this annual event are invited to participate. No entry fee is required. Pumpkin trophies are awarded to Best Float, Best Group, Best Horse/Rider or Horse Group, Best Royalty and Best Car.