Operation Pumpkin to tip scales next weekend

Weigh-off attracts gourds from far — and wide.Three-day fest expected to draw 40,000 attendees.

The free, three-day event is expected to draw close to 40,000 attendees.

“What we are most excited to see each year, is the amount of people that get to come out and walk the streets of downtown Hamilton, and the exposure that the city gets,” said event founder and chair, Jason Snyder, who co-chairs the event with his wife, Tammy.

Of course, the main attraction for the third-year event will feature pumpkins — sculpting, a giant pumpkin weigh-off and a decorated pumpkin display, to name a few.

“It is a pumpkin festival. Friday’s main attraction will be the pumpkin weigh-off. That is where we have giant pumpkins come in from all over the country, and we do hold a sanctioned weigh-off, which means you have an opportunity of setting or breaking the world record,” Snyder said.

Operation Pumpkin is a sanctioned event by the Southern Ohio Giant Pumpkin Growers Association (www.sogpg.com). With the sanctioned event, there will be giant pumpkin weigh-offs, which will begin on Friday at 5 p.m. Competitors will have pumpkins on display that weigh up to 1,500 pounds, or more, as well as watermelons, tomatoes and long gourds.

To date, the largest pumpkin winner was entered in the 2012 weigh-off by Quinn Werner of Pennsylvania, who weighed-in with a 1,586-pound pumpkin. The first-place giant pumpkin winner will receive a $4,000 cash prize. Cash prizes will be awarded to the Top 20 pumpkins. Giant watermelons, hard stem pumpkins, tomatoes and long gourds will also be judged to receive cash awards.

“Last year, our event had the world record-breaking watermelon. That event will be held on Saturday,” Snyder said.

Throughout the weekend, there will be live entertainment from acts such as One Mississippi and 90 Proof Twang, and others. The YMCA will offer a Zumba class on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. as well as a host of other child-friendly activities. Scarecrow Stilt Walkers from Cincinnati Circus Company will be a featured attraction this year. There will also be 1,200 decorated pumpkins on display, crafted by fourth-grade students from seven, Hamilton-area schools. Between 30,000 and 35,000 guests attended the festival last year.

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Contact this contributing writer at gmwriteon@aol.com.