BARNESVILLE - The Barnesville Pumpkin Festival is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and is planning to add more entertainment and vendors and recognize its founders.
This year's festival is set for Sept. 26-29.
Tracey Rockwell, festival treasurer, said the committee is working to find some of the festival's original planning members to ride on a special Founders Float during the Giant Pumpkin Parade at 2 p.m. Saturday. She said the family of founder Vernon Burkhart is providing the float. An extra float also is planned for past festival queens.
The 2012 King Pumpkin weighed in at 1,500.5 pounds. The 2013 Barnesville Pumpkin festival is slated Sept. 26-29.
Other plans to commemorate the anniversary include souvenirs, more vendors and more entertainment including Joe Zelek, who is scheduled to perform from 8-10 p.m. Saturday on the Pumpkin Stage.
"Hopefully we're going to do everything bigger and have more variety," Rockwell noted.
To entice more people to enter the King Pumpkin Contest, Rockwell said more weigh-in categories are being added to allow more people to win prizes.
The festival has become a tradition for families and friends who come each year to enjoy one of Ohio's oldest and most popular festivals. Always held during the last full weekend in September, the festival includes four days of fun-filled contests, entertainment, tastes, sights and sounds.
The festival started in 1964 in the basement of the Catholic Church and has has evolved from a small street fair to a premier event with visitors attending from across the United States. Two of the original planning members, Jim and Evelyn Cook, still are on the committee today, Rockwell noted.
Both adults and children can enjoy harvest-inspired arts and crafts, home-style foods, entertainment on two stages, a giant weigh-in of champion pumpkins, lots of fun contests and the Giant Pumpkin Festival Parade on Saturday. There is plenty to see and do and, best of all, admission is free. The King Pumpkin Auction is at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Activities include agricultural/horticultural displays, an antique/classic car show on Sunday, an art show, a quilt show, the Belmont County Victorian Museum and a farm machinery display. The Giant Pumpkin Parade is Saturday at 2 p.m. (rain or shine); Crock Raffle Drawing is 5 p.m. Sunday. There are also amusement rides, children's crafts, a tractor cruise on Saturday morning.
Contests on Thursday include Pie Baking at 4 p.m. at the Pumpkin Stage; Pie Eating, 5 p.m., Pumpkin Stage; a Talent Show, 5:30 p.m., Central Stage; Pumpkin Baby, 6:30 p.m., First Christian Church; Little Miss & Mister, 7 p.m., First Christian Church
And on Friday: Pizza Eating, 4 p.m., Pumpkin Stage; Fudge Contest, 6 p.m., Information Booth; and Pumpkin Mascot in King Pumpkin Area.
Saturday contests: 5K Run/Walk, 8:30 a.m., Watt Center; Pet Show, 10:30 a.m., Central Stage; Tall Tales, 5 p.m., Pumpkin Stage; Beard & Moustache, 5:30 p.m., Pumpkin Stage; Hog Calling, 6 p.m., Pumpkin Stage; and Tobacco Spitting, 6:30 p.m., Pumpkin Stage
Sunday activities and contests: Car Show, 9 a.m., High School on Shamrock Drive; Pumpkin Roll, 1 p.m., WesBanco Parking Lot; Horseshoe Tournament, 1 p.m., Memorial Park; and Fiddle, Banjo & Mandolin, 2 p.m., Central Stage.