BARNESVILLE - The hot, dry summer made it difficult to cultivate giant pumpkins in Ohio, but Jay Johnson of Kimbolton still managed to capture the crown at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival on Wednesday.
Johnson's bright orange gourd tipped the scales during the annual weigh-in at 1,500.5 pounds - the second largest in the festival's history.
"There's no secrets, it's all hard work," Johnson said, noting drought conditions and severe storms made the task challenging. He said he even used cars to shield his pumpkins from stormy weather as they grew.
Photo by Jennifer Compston-Strough
Jay Johnson of Kimbolton, Ohio, poses with his winning King Pumpkin during the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival Weigh-In on Wednesday.
The second-place grower was Erik Gunstrom of Monongahela, Pa., with a 965.5-pound pumpkin, and Tom White of New Matamoras, Ohio, captured third place with an 843-pound entry.
Duane Powell of Barnesville took fourth place with a 675.5-pound pumpkin.
Festival official Carolyn Miller said there were 12 entries.
Although the four-day festival doesn't open officially until 5 p.m. today, there won't be a scarcity of pumpkins and pumpkin-related activities earlier in the day. Pumpkin Alley and Pumpkin Porch both feature crafts and gifts. Offering pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin doughnuts and pumpkin pies is the Pumpkin Wagon. The festival's information booth is open as well.
Barnesville's police department went into action earlier this week to block off an area of Main Street, where priority is given to pumpkins for a four-day period. The King Pumpkin competition draws entries from a variety of locations, and the contenders require special handling.
A festival queen, princess and mini miss were selected at a pageant Sunday. 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. 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 during the opening ceremonies today and at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. They also will participate in the Giant Pumpkin Parade at 1:45 p.m. Saturday.
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 today.
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. Another event planned Saturday is a tall tales contest.
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 p.m. will conclude the festival.