Starting the plants

Bob Liggett holds one of the potted plants that is being offered by the Pumpkin Growers Association at their annual meeting later this month. The plants being offered are from a confirmed Pumpkin Show Giant Pumpkin. They look like the one he’s holding after about 10 days and are ready to be planted like the one to Liggett’s immediate left.

CIRCLEVILLE — If you’ve ever wanted to grow a giant pumpkin, now is your chance.

The Pickaway County Giant Pumpkin Growers Association is once again hosting their pumpkin contests during the Circleville Pumpkin Show Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off and are helping new growers by providing plants ahead of their annual summer picnic and patch tour later this summer.

If you live within a 21-mile radius of Circleville and have never entered a pumpkin, the Charlie Brown contest is open to you. Second-year growers can enter a similar Snoopy-themed contest. There’s no cost to enter, the only thing needed is a plant, which can be picked up on May 22 at 1:30 outside of Rhodes Family Garden Center on state Route 56 East or at Ortman’s Greenhouse at 3:30 p.m. on 105 Reo Drive in Chillicothe.

Bob Liggett, a 14-time winner of the Pumpkin Show’s giant pumpkin weigh-off and member of the association, said the plants they’ll be giving away are from the genetics of Dean Parks 935-pound pumpkin that won several years ago.

“It’s a proven seed that’s grown a big pumpkin for these new growers,” he said. “They’re getting a local seed that’s good. We’ll start the plants around the 10th and after those 12 days, they’ll have a small plant to put in the ground.”

Liggett, shared the prizes for the participants this year.

“Those who take advantage of these opportunities and take their pumpkins to be weighed at this year’s Pumpkin Show will be eligible not only for the show’s prizes, but also for the competition prizes being offered by the club,” Liggett said. “The heaviest pumpkin in both the Charlie Brown and Snoopy competitions will receive $140, second heaviest will receive $105 and third heaviest will receive $70.”

Liggett said the whole point of doing the events they’re doing is to draw in more members.

“Everyone wants to grow differently some grow pretty and orange, I grow big and ugly,” he said. “We want to have a nice display and we need to have people grow pumpkins. We want to do what we can to keep people interested in growing.”

A new thing this year is the addition of a giant squash, which has no orange in it.

“We try to go with the national recognition standards because if we’d ever get the world record here, we want to have the records show that everything here is legal,” he said.

Any member of the club who joins, dues are $5 per year, and they are able to participate in their summer picnic and patch tour where growers share tips, tricks and information.

“Club members are available not only at that event, but throughout the year for those who have questions or concerns about their plants,” Liggett said.

“There are all kind of crazy prizes in the club, like closest to 200 pounds, 300 pounds and one of the things we’re proud of is the Nancy Martin Prettiest Pumpkin Award,” he said. “The seeds that we’re giving away have a chance to be the prettiest pumpkin.”

Liggett is asking anyone who wants to participate in the first time grower contests to contact him on or before May 10 so they can ensure they have enough plants started. Liggett can be reached at 740-474-3682.

Ernie Weaver, Pumpkin Show Trustee that is in charge of organizing the event, said there would be a weigh-off even if there isn’t a Pumpkin Show similar to like what happened last year at the Pickaway County Fairgrounds. Details and a location for that event depend on what happens with the Pumpkin Show.

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