CIRCLEVILLE — With the 2020 Circleville Pumpkin Show canceled due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, local organizations are getting in on the act of trying to fill the void for the biggest week of the year for the city.

One such organization is the United Way of Pickaway County that will be putting on A Great Pumpkin Escape.

Jama Cobb, executive director of the United Way of Pickaway County, said the idea to host an event came in the wake of the Pumpkin Show Committee deciding to cancel the event this year.

“When the difficult decision was made to cancel the Pumpkin Show, we started brainstorming ideas to provide an activity for the community to embrace and help fill the huge void left as a result of the impact of the coronavirus,” Cobb said. “We wanted to offer an alternative activity that would allow for safe participation while also providing the food options we love so much during that beloved week.”

Out of that came this event, which Cobb said will be a family friendly socially-distanced event held at A.W. Marion State Park to the east of Circleville. The event will be Saturday Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The same Saturday the Pumpkin Show would have been on.

“This event encourages families to escape summer isolation and take part in a hike, food trucks and more for a cause,” she explained. “The Great Pumpkin Escape is a chance for families to spend time together and enjoy one of the many parks we have to offer right here in our backyard while also taking in the tasty food provided by the same food trucks who usually participate in the Pumpkin Show.”

Cobb acknowledged that the food vendors have been hit very hard and they wanted a way to give them the ability to earn some revenue. Local park overseers have taken to the idea

“Park Manager Mark Hoffhines, of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and Volunteer Campground Host John Engle embraced the idea and have worked hand-in-hand with the UWPC committee to make this event happen,” Cobb added. “The United Way of Pickaway County will be utilizing the funds raised from this event to support the amazing philanthropic programs we support financially. The same ones who have been answering the calls, coming up with solutions to the problems COVID-19 has caused, and making sure our residents are sustained through the pandemic.”

Cobb said in addition to food trucks and the hike, they’ll have displays and will be giving away pumpkins thanks to local farmers Brad and Jan Shannon.

“There will be a naturalist display with a bird of prey as well as a professional carver who will have a carving demonstration on a Pickaway County grown pumpkin, donated by Officer Mark Hoffhines,” she said.

Cobb said UWPC recognized that an event like this would need the support of the Pickaway County Health Department and other local leaders to make the event happen.

“We have received the blessing from the health department to proceed with this activity,” Cobb remarked. “Of course, the responsibility will fall on the participants to ensure they are following the CDC guidelines and adhering to the displayed signage during the event. The food trucks will be spaced to provide a safe environment and we are asking that you stay with those you arrive with so not to cross-contaminate the community.”

Cobb said she’s looking forward to providing an outlet and activity for the community who haven’t had nearly the amount of events in person available this year. Cobb said the event is still taking shape and that they’ll have more details as the event draws near.

“We are most excited to provide an escape to the community in a safe environment, enjoy the beautiful nature, support local businesses and raise money for programs in our community we cannot live without,” she added. “Several of those programs receive matching funds from our financial support. For example, a $100 donation becomes $400. That provides an opportunity to stretch those funds even further and capitalize on the support we are given from donations.”

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