Anyone who knows me well knows that my travel style is more “rambler” than “planner” – but there are a few exceptions. Each fall, the first sign of the changing leaves is my signal to begin the countdown and start making a plan for my hometown’s Circleville Pumpkin Show – otherwise known as “The Greatest Free Show on Earth.”
This famous festival began in 1903 as a vegetable exhibition and has grown to become one of the state’s most beloved events, drawing more than 400,000 visitors over four days to the 12,000-person town of Circleville. This year, the 105th Annual Pumpkin Show will take place on October 19-22, just 30 minutes south of Columbus.
Ohio has so many great fall festivals, paying homage to things like apple butter, fall leaves and even sauerkraut, but to me, there’s just something about pumpkin that really captures the spirit of fall. From the wafting smell of nutmeg and cinnamon to the crunchy leaves on the ground and the jack-o-lanterns lining porches nearby, the Pumpkin Show is the epitome of autumn in the buckeye state.
As a Circleville native, here’s my list of the five things you simply must do to get the full Pumpkin Show experience – and that you can’t get anywhere else.
- Parades – There are seven total parades including Little Miss Pumpkin Show (adorable
local first-graders), a parade of bands, pet parade and Miss Pumpkin Show - and keep an eye out for the famous “Pumpkin Man” on roller skates, featured in every parade.
- Pumpkin Tower – At the town’s main intersection on Court and Main streets is the signature tower featuring pumpkins stacked about 10 rows high and more than 100,000 total pounds of pumpkins competing to be crowned “prettiest” or “largest” (last year’s winner was over 1,600 pounds).
- Lindsey’s Bakery – No trip to the Show is complete without a visit to Lindsey’s Bakery where you’ll see the World’s Largest Pumpkin Pie weighing more than 400 lbs., and stand in line (it’s worth it) to buy some of the world’s best pumpkin doughnuts.
- Ted Lewis Museum – Stop by the Ted Lewis museum downtown to learn the colorful story of this Circleville native – a vaudeville-era musical entertainer and film star whose famous catch-phrase was “Is Everybody Happy?”
- Unique Pumpkin Foods – While you can surely play it safe with popular fall treats like funnel cakes and candy apples, why not make your trip an adventure in food? Be sure to check out some of the more unusual pumpkin-flavored items like burgers (more like sloppy joes), whoopie pies, crepes, chili, pancakes, pizza, elephant ears, cheesecake, brownies, fudge, taffy, bread, brittle, candy, ice cream and shakes, cream puffs and much more.
And one final tip to end this post, Saturday is typically the busiest day of the show, so pushing a stroller can be a challenge. If traveling with small children, try earlier in the week if you can.