King Pumpkin is crowned in late September in downtown Barnesville at the annual Barnesville Pumpkin Festival. The event, which started in 1964, has become a popular fall ritual on that last full weekend of September. Barnesville has a population of just 5,000 residents, but swells to over 150,000 during the 4 day Barnesville Pumpkin Festival. The festival starts off with the King Pumpkin Weigh-In on Wednesday evening from 6:00p.m. - 9 p.m., but the actual festivities start on Thursday and run through Sunday.
The King Pumpkin title is given to the heaviest pumpkin entered in the big orange fruit contest. The grower is awarded a cash prize of $1.00 per pound and on Saturday night the King is auctioned off to some lucky local business owner who proudly puts the big beauty on display for the next week. After that, the pumpkin is returned and promptly gutted and the seeds divided between the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival Committee and grower. The committee then dries their allotment of seeds, packages them and sells them to future pumpkin growers.
Also featured during the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival is a parade, pumpkin pie eating contest, pumpkin decorating contest, pumpkin rolling contest, a fudge contest, a pet show, an antique and classic car show, quilt show, and farm machinery display. On Saturday they have the Giant Pumpkin Parade.
Barnesville is located about 6 miles south of I-70 and east of Cambridge.
Early Barnesville History
Early settlers to the area were mostly made of Quakers seeking refuge from North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Today, the Stillwater Meeting House is used as house of worship and contains a Quaker Heritage Museum. The building seats 1500, and was built in 1878.
As the population grew, the area became known for its large strawberry production that grew to over 1000 bushels per day in the late 1800s. Also occupying a large portion of the local work force was the Barnesville Glass Company.