Gargantuan Gourd Tips the Scales at Over 1,500 Pounds at Barnesville Pumpkin Festival

Volunteers guide the winning entry in the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off onto the scales Wednesday evening in Barnesville. Todd Cotterman, of Fenton, Michigan, grew the King Pumpkin, which weighed in at 1,511.5 pounds. Photo by Jennifer Compston-Strough

BARNESVILLE — It didn’t set a record and it wasn’t locally grown, but the gourd that claimed the crown Wednesday in Barnesville is still quite regal.

Todd Cotterman, of Fenton, Michigan, made a five-hour drive to enter the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off and win the title of King Pumpkin. The enormous 1,511.5-pound squash will reign over the 55th Barnesville Pumpkin Festival for the remainder of the week. For his hard work, Cotterman also earned $2 per pound, or a prize of $3,023.

This year marked Cotterman’s fifth attempt at winning the contest. He said he previously finished third and fifth.

“I got lucky tonight,” Cotterman said.

Regarding what it takes to raise a royal pumpkin, Cotterman cited a “lot of hard work, and a lot of commitment.”

“You’ve got to say no a lot,” he added, explaining that he had to decline opportunities to go out for ice cream and participate in other fun activities so that he could stay home and give his crop the attention it needed.

Cotterman also said he still has another giant pumpkin at home that may be even bigger. He plans to enter it in another Ohio contest, perhaps at Dublin, later this fall.

Todd and Donna Skinner, of Barnesville, who grew last year’s King Pumpkin and were named the 2017 Grower of the Year by the Worldwide Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, did not have an entry for this year’s contest. They set a festival and state record last year with their 2,150-pound winner.

Chuck Greathouse, of Hartville, Ohio, had this year’s second-place winner with a pumpkin weighing 1,423.5 pounds, while third place was claimed by Jay Johnson, of Senecaville, Ohio, with a 1,231.5-pound entry.

Scores of people gathered at Main and Chestnut streets to witness the weigh-off. Among them were Bethesda Mayor Martin Lucas and his 12-year-old son, Carson. Lucas said it had been several years since he attended the Wednesday evening contest but decided to come when Carson suggested it.

“I’m just curious to see who will take the title … ,” Lucas said. “As a family, we always come together to the festival.”

But Wednesday marked Carson’s first weigh-off. He said he was having a good time watching the competition.

“It’s been interesting so far,” Carson said as the final four entries were loaded on the scale.

Joel Braido, of Braido Monuments in Bethesda, provided the equipment used to lift the hefty fruits to be weighed, as he has done for several years.

Barnesville-area resident Chris Graham was happy to be at the event with her brother, Les Morgan, who returns to the village from his home in Knoxville, Tennessee, every year to enjoy the festival. Morgan brings his wife, the former Connie Flood, along. Both were born and raised in the Quaker City area and enjoy their annual visit with friends and family, he said.

“So many people donate their time and equipment for the weigh-off,” Graham said. “It is a wonderful activity to bring the community together.”

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