CIRCLEVILLE — The 2020 Circleville Pumpkin Show has been canceled.
Citing concerns over safety in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Trustees for the Circleville Pumpkin Show, which is not a government entity, have voted to cancel the festival.
Pumpkin Show Vice President Barry Keller said the decision was one of the biggest challenges he has faced since being elected 25 years ago to lead the festival.
“I know that the board made the right decision for the community, but it will be a challenge for many of the civic, fraternal, school and church groups who fund their charitable activates from their Pumpkin Show booths to find different funding sources,” stated Keller. “And the loss of revenue to the local businesses from the many visitors the Pumpkin Show brings to our community will be difficult for them after the pandemic closures many of them have endured.”
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.
“For our community and our Pumpkin Show volunteers, this was the right decision to make,” Keller added. “Cases are going up, not down in Ohio. We don’t know what will happen in the fall and we felt this was the right decision to make.”
Keller said now was the time to make the call since Pumpkin Show Inc. sends out vendor invites and executes contracts ahead of the show in October.
“The governor has yet to release the closure order and as of today we can’t have the Pumpkin Show even if we wanted to,” Keller said. “The Pumpkin Show executes many contracts and the vendor invites at this time of the year. We elected to make the decision now to put those people on notice that we’re not going to be doing those.”
The Circleville Pumpkin Show started in 1903 when then mayor George Haswell organized a small display in front of the waterworks office on West Main Street. Since then the Pumpkin Show has been a yearly staple and only missed a couple of years due to wartime efforts. The Pumpkin Show has previously been canceled three time s— 1918, 1942, and 1943 — and a fourth time partially in 1944. All four cancelations were during wartime.
The 2021 Circleville Pumpkin Show will take place Oct. 20 through Oct. 23, according to Keller.
In a bit of bright news following the decision, Lindsey’s Bakery announced on social media that they will be following tradition and will bake the world’s largest pumpkin pie and have it on display on what would have been the week of this year’s show in October.
“We will still be making the giant pumpkin pie on the third Wednesday in October,” their statement read. “We will be making and serving hot pumpkin donuts all week long. We do ask that you bring your mask and practice proper safety measures. We love you all and believe in the safety of the community above all else.”
Keller said there would be no events in the downtown area sponsored by the Pumpkin Show and that there would be a giant pumpkin weigh-off but it would be elsewhere.
“We don’t want to appear as if we’re having a smaller show,” Keller said. “The Pumpkin Show is canceled. I don’t know what other people might want to do in the absence of the Pumpkin Show; it’s too early to tell, but we’re not doing anything this year other than the weigh-off. The pumpkin growers have already started growing.”
Keller said while the 2020 show is canceled, he issued a challenge to the rest of the board and said they wouldn’t be taking the year off.
“We’re taking this as an opportunity to look at how to make things better, make things more efficient and to save costs,” Keller said. “That’s how we’ll spend the rest of this year, we’re not taking a break. This is an opportunity to make things better.”