CIRCLEVILLE — The 2021 Circleville Pumpkin Show is going to proceed with one giant pumpkin over it, the COVID-19 pandemic that caused the cancellation of the 2020 show.
The Pumpkin Show Board of Trustees canceled the show on July 15 of last year, something that Vice President Barry Keller said was the biggest challenge he faced in the 25 years he’s led the organization.
The board cited orders from the state that required continued closures of festivals and the safety requirements for mass gatherings and social distancing as reason for the cancellation. Each year, approximately 400,000 people come to Circleville for the festival and it’s one of the largest open-air festivals in the United States.
“It was a hard decision by the board to cancel the festival last year; that’s went on for over 100 years and it’s only the fourth time it’s ever been canceled,” Keller said.
“It’s a huge impact to our community, so when you cancel it, it’s not just an impact to us, but to all these other agencies, organizations and individuals. Luckily, we were financially strong enough to survive a year with no revenue, but we can’t go two years.
We need the festival, the community needs the festival and we see comments all the time about how people are excited and they can’t wait, looking forward to this or that and it’s back to a hometown reunion, so for all those reasons, we really want to have for the Pumpkin Show.”
Nanisa Osborn, Pumpkin Show Trustee, said they heard a lot from the community about the cancellation.
“We impact them greatly and for many of them, Pumpkin Show Week is better for business than Christmas,” she said.
“So, that’s a big part of it. We’ve heard from all kinds of people who participate in our displays and contests because that’s something they count on and enjoy. We had people, as they always do, growing vegetables or flowers or canning things just for Pumpkin Show, but when you don’t have it, you make an impact on those people and we certainly did.”
Osborn said it was also hard for the trustees last year during the week the show would have taken place.
“It was difficult for the trustees and all of us who volunteer when October rolled around,” she said. “A lot of people disappeared because they’re used to being here and being busy that week.”
Keller said there are a number of people who work on putting the festival together each year, but not having a Pumpkin Show made things different and that one would expect that some people might not come back after a year off, but that’s not been the case.
“We’re always looking for volunteers and when you take a year off, some might not come back,” he said. “Thank goodness that we have a good board and good volunteers and people are signing up for shifts to volunteer in the information booth, souvenir booth or whatever it is.”
But at the end of the day, Keller said it’s time to bring the festival back.
“I think people are ready to come back and put the show on,” he said. “I think they want to get out have fun and have a great week.”