For the past one hundred and eleven years come October in Circleville, Ohio something magical happens – the streets fill with happy people and pumpkins of unusual shape and size (and a lot of other cool agricultural stuff too!).
The Circleville Pumpkin Show is one of those things that feels like it could only happen in small town America. And like so many great ideas the Pumpkin Show started with it began simply with one person. This person, George R. Haswell – Mayor of Circleville, got it into his head to decorate his place on West Main Street with Corn leftovers, pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns. This unusually ornate display was immediately dubbed “the pumpkin show”. The next year Haswell was joined by neighboring merchants. More and more joined in each year and, well, now Circleville has a festival that draws some 300,000 people in the span of four days.
Later a permanent organization was created to maintain and promote the Pumpkin Show. The organization was also tasked with public relations and to encourage agricultural pursuit and to award outstanding displays of grain, fruits, vegetables, school displays – anything that bettered Circleville and Pickaway County.
These days the Pumpkin Show boasts the slogan: Greatest Free Show on Earth – and they have stuck by that. The show is entirely free to enter and enjoy.
The Pumpkin Show organization took things a step further in 1946 by creating an NPO, Circleville Pumpkin Show, Inc. to operate the show. Profits from the show are used to better Circleville. Thousands of dollars have been donated to the city for use in community projects. Amazingly Pumpkin Show, Inc is entirely self sufficient. The operate solely on donations and self generated income. They even reimburse the city for use of services such as extra police duties.
While America ideals often seem to prefer individual success, the spirit of community and giving inherent in the goals of the Circleville Pumpkin Show seem to best represent the greatest qualities of our country – community and self sufficiency allowed by people helping people.