Why this year’s Operation Pumpkin is bigger and better

Operation Pumpkin will once again turn the streets of Hamilton orange when the three-day festival returns to downtown, attracting 35,000 to 40,000 guests.

The festivities will focus on all things pumpkin, including the festival’s first sculpting competition and a giant pumpkin weigh-off.

“Everything has gotten bigger and better. We’ve increased our prize money for the giant pumpkin weigh-off. So, we have more entries, and we have people coming from further away. We are hoping to set another record. Our state recent was recently broken this past week,” said event co-chair, Tammy Snyder, who chairs the event with her husband, and event founder, Jason Snyder.

The annual, fall festival will return for its sixth season on Friday, Oct. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 15. Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The event will feature a pumpkin-sculpting competition with professional sculptors from all over the country. The first round of the sculpting contest will kick off on Friday morning at 9 a.m. with about 30, 100- to 200-pound pumpkins. Finalists will compete in the sculpting competition on Saturday, featuring about eight giant, 1,000-plus-pound pumpkins.

Operation Pumpkin is a sanctioned event by the Southern Ohio Giant Pumpkin Growers Association. With the sanctioned event, there will be giant pumpkin weigh-offs, which will begin on Friday afternoon. Competitors will have pumpkins on display (at the intersection of Court and S. 2nd Street.) that weigh up to 2,000 pounds, or more, as well as watermelons, tomatoes and long gourds. The first-place prize in the pumpkin weigh-off is $6,000 (with an additional $1,000 if the pumpkin sets a new site record.) Giant pumpkin growers are coming from at least 11 different states this year. The giant pumpkin weigh-off is expected to have 25 to 35 different entries.

“Previously, Operation Pumpkin held the record for the largest pumpkin in the State of Ohio, which weighed 2,008 pounds, but it was recently broken by an entry weighing 2,150 pounds. We do hold the world record for the largest watermelon at 350.5 pounds,” Jason Snyder said.

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This year, he said, they are getting word that there could be at least four pumpkins weighing in at over a ton each, potentially with a chance of setting the state record again. The world record currently stands at 2,632 pounds.

“I also just heard that there is a gentleman bringing his watermelon, and it is pushing the world record right now. So, we could possibly set a new world record with the watermelon,” Jason Snyder said.

There will be a decorated pumpkin display again this year with 1,500 decorated pumpkins, which are crafted by fourth-grade students from Hamilton-area public and private schools.

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The zipline will return on Court Street (down a block from last year.) Additional entertainment will include the Naked Karate Girls on Friday night at 7 p.m. and the Jim Burns Band from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., DV8 on Saturday night at 7 p.m. and The Amy Sailor Band on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. The festival will also host the sixth annual Lil’ Miss Punkin contest on Sunday at 2 p.m. and a Pet Parade on Sunday at noon. Registration for the Pet Parade will start at 11 a.m.

More than 150 food and craft vendors will participate. Arts and crafts vendors and Food Truck Alley will be lining High Street and surrounding the Butler County Courthouse, along with a wine garden in Pocket Park.

Free children’s activities, including an activity with the Fitton Center will be offered on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Additionally, the Hamilton Fire Department will operate a smokehouse (fire safety for children) on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., both days. The smokehouse will be located at Journal Square. The firefighters will also host an obstacle course. On Saturday, as part of a breast cancer awareness initiative, there will be a pink fire truck on-site.


What: Operation Pumpkin

When: Friday, Oct. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 15. Hours are Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Downtown Hamilton

Admission: Free admission and free parking. Family-friendly event. (Food and other items will be available for purchase.)

More info: www.operation-pumpkin.org and www.facebook.com/operationpumpkin. Check the website for an interactive map.

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