CIRCLEVILLE — The Circleville Pumpkin Show is back this year and it will look both different and the same as it has in the past.
Barry Keller, Pumpkin Show Vice President, said several companies went out of business or decided to not return following the shutdowns and cancellations last year, so there’s a new ride company, tent company, sound company and restroom company that will be contracted with the festival this year.
“Following a year of the canceled Pumpkin Show and a lot of companies changing direction or going out of business, it has caused us to have a new ride contract with Poor Jack Amusements out of Indiana,” Keller said.
“Some of their previous pieces of equipment had been in the Pumpkin Show already, so they’re familiar with us and we’re going to utilize some of the Kissel’s equipment still this year, like wiring for the vendors and personnel to lay out the new rides. That’s a new opportunity for us.
We also have a new tent company; the previous supplier went out of business as well. We’re using O’Neil Tents out of Columbus. They have a different style tent than what we’re used to, a little bit smaller. Instead of 12-by-12 feet, they’re 10-by-10 feet.”
Keller said that with the new ride company, the Pumpkin Show will be laid out a little bit differently.
“There will be different rides and they’ll be in new spaces, which means we can put another booth in a place instead of it being taken up by a ride,” he said. “There will be some changes to how the show is laid out. That’s a change that people can walk around and check everything out and how it’s different.”
Nanisa Osborn, Pumpkin Show Trustee, said with the new tent company, there is a change in how the tents come up and down and it might not be as fast as it has been in years past while they work out some of the kinks.
That will be something that people are into watching...they’ll notice.
“It’s going to be a learning curve for all these new companies, so it might not be as fast and as efficient as it has been because they’re learning as well,” Keller said. “The goal will still be to have the town as clean as a pin, back to normal, by Sunday night."
On top of those physical changes, behind-the-scenes things have changed too, including the addition of online registration. Osborn said it’s been well received.
“We had more than 125 entries for the baby parade in the first 24 hours,” she said. “People seem to like the process; you just go to our website and across the top, there’s something that says 'Registration' and it’ll take you to all the opportunities and you click on the one you want.”
Osborn said parade and vendor applications will go fully online next year for the 2022 Pumpkin Show.
“We hope by 2022 that if you want to register to participate in any of our contests or be part of a parade, or be a vendor, you can do all of it online,” she said.
“We’re trying to adjust to the current age group. Most of the people who have babies right now are used to having their whole life on their phone. We’re trying to get our act together on that and are caught up to them on that.”
Osborn said for a long time, there’s always been a QR code to take people to their website, but this year, they’ll have to do the schedule and they’ve reduced the number of printed schedules they have.
“People will scan it with their phone in order to have access to what’s going on at the show,” she said. “Those codes will be all over. We’ll have them on the information booth and all the major locations throughout town so you can just scan and just get whatever is going on that day. That’s a big step for us; the fair did something similar, so we’re going to give it a stab and see how it goes.
We know that we have a crowd that wants something paper in their hand, but we’re not printing anywhere near what we have in the past.”
Keller said the beauty of the new technology is that it’s faster and you can receive instant confirmation.
“At the fair, they had QR codes and they were so fast, so we’re going to do some of the same things,” he said.
Other changes for the 2021 Pumpkin Show include not having late-night performances at the main stage, since they weren’t well attended in 2019.
“All of our entertainment will be up to the parade and then it won’t have any, other than the Miss Pumpkin Show Contest, but it’ll otherwise be empty,” Keller said.
“The other stages might have some smaller acts, like the cloggers or dynamic mention, but as far as other acts, we won’t have that."
The OSU Marching Band is coming back again this year and will help draw in the large crowds.
“It’s been seven years since they’ve been here and we’re very blessed that we have a sponsor in Health Care Logistics to sponsor it,” Keller said. “There are a ton of things to bring them here Thursday night for the parade of bands. They’re a great attraction for the show and we’re glad they’re coming.”
When it comes to the vendors, a bunch of old and new vendors are returning.
“A lot of vendors went out of business due to no revenue, so we do have some new vendors and some returning vendors,” Keller said. “We’ve heard word that we have some local groups that won’t have a booth, especially with concerns over COVID and their volunteer staff. We understand that completely, so there will be new vendors.”
As far as changes to the festival regarding COVID protocols, Keller said the Pumpkin Show is leaving it up to the individual person in the streets, but they may take some protocols inside the different buildings and they are up to the individual committees.
“We’re an outdoor event, so we may take some protocols, and we’re still working on that,” Keller said.
“The volunteers of the flower show, art show, canned goods, etc. are still talking on how they want to handle that. We don’t have a definitive answer and it could be anywhere from wide open, or there may be everything. Because they are in our buildings, there might be some things we do in the name of the safety of our volunteers and any visitors.”
Osborn said if people have any concerns about coming downtown and participating, that they have to make the decision on their own.
"We encourage them to wear a mask if they want, but we think those concerns have to be individual decisions," she said.
Keller echoed her sentiment.
"We feel it’s a personal choice and they can take any precautions they feel they need to, even if that means not attending," he said.
"You’re making those same decisions if you go to the fair, to Walmart or you go anywhere, it’s a personal decision. I don’t think we should dictate what a person should do, but rather they should make their own choice."