Guide to Circleville Ohio Pumpkin Capitol of the World

Although there are several contenders for the title of Pumpkin Capitol of the World, no other town holds a pumpkin festival like the one in Circleville, Ohio. Each year, on the third week in October, this town of less than 20,000 residents opens its doors to hundreds of thousands of visitors. With attendance topping 400,000 for the four day event, the Circleville Pumpkin Festival is the sixth largest festival in the United states. It is believed to be the biggest festival in the country dedicated to pumpkins. Admission is free, and the event has been called “The Greatest Free Show On Earth.” 

This popular and unique event originated from humble beginnings in October 1903. Geroge R. Haswell,  who was a local businessman, as well as the town’s mayor, held a small pumpkin and corn exhibit in front of his store to celebrate the local harvest. Because so many carved pumpkins were included in the display, the exhibit earned the title “The Pumpkin Show.”   

The following year, several other merchants joined the exhibition. It slowly grew in attendance and scope. The first merry-go-round was set up in 1905. Since that time the Circleville Pumpkin Show has grown into a street fair that covers eight city blocks. It has been held every year, with only a few exceptions during the two World Wars. 

The show officially begins on the third Wednesday in October. A long-standing tradition of the Pumpkin Show is the chiming of the bells in Circleville’s historic bell tower. The opening ceremonies are followed by the Great Pumpkin Weigh In. The massive pumpkins that are hauled in for this event often tip the scales at over 1,000 pounds. The largest pumpkin to date weighed in at 1,635 pounds, falling just short of the current world record of 1,725 pounds.    

Seven parades are held during the four days of the festival. Parades are led by the reigning Little Miss and Miss Pumpkin Show Queens, and include music and floats. A popular event is the Parade of Bands which takes place on Thursday night and includes up to 50 bands. The parade is followed by an evening of concerts. The Ohio University Marching 110, which claims to be “The Most Exciting Band in the Land,” has frequently participated, as has the Ohio State University Marching Band. 

Over 100,000 pounds of pumpkins are displayed throughout the festival. Giant pumpkin pyramids line the streets. Each year, festival participants consume over 20,000 pumpkin pies and 100,000 pumpkin donuts. Lindsey’s Bakery contributes a 6-foot diameter, 400-pound pumpkin pie during each festival. The pie contains 100 pounds of  pumpkin, 26 gallons of milk, 15 dozen eggs and 42 pounds of dough. It is baked for six hours.

Events include, arts and crafts demonstrations, dance exhibits, a hog calling contest, a five mile run, cooking demonstrations, an egg toss, and a pumpkin toss. Food vendors sell pumpkin flavored pancakes, cookies, ice cream, cake, fudge, cream puffs, and even burgers. Gus the Squash-carver, who has elevated pumpkin carving into an art form, conducts annual pumpkin carving demonstrations. Multiple carnival rides are available, and a variety of live music is performed daily.  

Circleville, Ohio is located 23 miles South of Columbus, Ohio. It is marked by a large water tower that has been painted to resemble an enormous pumpkin. For more information, or to view the full calendar of events, visit: www.pumpkinshow.com.