CIRCLEVILLE — In the first major event following the opening ceremonies of the Pumpkin Show, Steven Thornhill won the grand prize for largest pumpkin coming in at 1,850.5 pounds.
Rounding out the top three were second-place winner, John Pritchard, with a 1,620-pound pumpkin, and third-place winner, Daryl Crosby, with a 1,448-pound pumpkin.
Thornhill, 36, reflected on his win said he felt relief that it was all over. He won third place last year and was the Nancy Martin Award winner for prettiest pumpkin. He’s a third-year grower.
“I can breathe now,” he said.
Thornhill said he ran into water and electricity issues this year.
“I went into a new patch this year and I didn’t have the electric to do my grow lights and I didn’t have those this year, which is a big deal,” he said. “It worked out.”
Thornhill worked with second-place winner Pritchard to grow both their pumpkins they brought to the competition.
“I knew it would be close,” he said of their two pumpkins. “He’s a good dude.”
Pritchard said he is setting his sights on the top prize next year. Like Thornhill, he’s also a third-year grower.
“I told [Thornhill] when I congratulated him and gave him a hug, we’re not far off from 2,000 pounds,” he said. “We’ve had 1,964, we’ve got 1,850 and I had 1,620; we’re going to blow by 2,000 and I think we’re going to do that next year.”
Pritchard said it’s not only about growing the biggest pumpkin.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “[Thornhill] built the cover for my pumpkin and I gave him some fungicides and fertilizer in the time he needed, based on his soil test. This is all fun and we worked together. It’s about having a great display.”
Dr. Bob Liggett and his grandson, Chase, brought the fourth heaviest pumpkin at 1,369.5 pounds. Following them and rounding out the 1,000-pound pumpkins were Ryan Morrison with a 1,269-pound pumpkin, the Liggetts again at 1,248.5, a pumpkin grown in honor of Gregory Hill at 1,999.5 pounds, and Thornhill’s smaller pumpkin at 1,154.5 pounds. Dawn Wagner’s 639-pound pumpkin was named the Nancy Martin Prettiest Pumpkin Award winner. There were 35 entries in total.
Liggett said he was happy that there are some new faces this year.
“The younger guns are growing the big ones and that’s the fantastic part of it,” he said. “I think it’s wonderful. My wife is more competitive than I am. These are all nice big pumpkins and I think it’s a great year.”
Liggett shared some of the challenges for all the growers this year.
“An even summer is when things are best because a plant shuts down at 90 degrees and anytime you have any type of fungus or disease, it seems to take over,” he said.
“The plant is resistant to a lot of things that go away. For us, it wasn’t the best [weather].”
Liggett said on the flip side, they’ve not had to put blankets and comforters on their pumpkins due to cold.
“We haven’t had to do that so the weather toward the end has been pretty good,” he said. “Most of us use artificial water so that hasn’t been a real issue for us.”
Ernie Weaver, Pumpkin Show Trustee who organizes and emcees the giant pumpkin weigh-off, said this year’s event featured a $3,000 top prize, $1,000 for second place and $750 for third and $500 fourth.
The remaining top 20 winners all receive $100 each. Kingston National Bank is a sponsor of the weigh-in and the Pumpkin Show and concessionaires also provide some of the prize money.