SALEM, Ohio — When Homer Schaeffer and Ray Carr visited the Circleville Pumpkin Show in the early 1960s, they had an idea.
It got them thinking that the Canfield Fair needed a pumpkin show similar to the one in Circleville.
The idea turned into the Canfield Fair Pumpkin Show. This year marks the 53rd annual show.
At the time, Schaeffer was the Canfield Fair Board director. Carr would become pumpkin show superintendent and go on to have thousands of entries in the show over the years.
The first pumpkin show was held in 1962 and grand champion was won by John Gavin with a weight of 85 pounds.
In 1965, Alan Gibson, of Salem, Ohio, exhibited the grand champion and reserve champion Hungarian squash. Gibson, Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers treasurer, has went on to show five grand champions and four reserve champions over the years.
The late 1960s were dominated by Bob Fox. Fox would typically bring a 200-pound Hungarian squash and take the top prizes.
In 1970, Fox grew a 300 pounder and appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
He also bred a squash variety named Right Royal (Hungarian squash and Hubbard squash) that Burpee carried for several years in their seed catalog.
The Ritz brothers, John and Hugh, and Jerry Rose have had the most grand champions with six each.
Rose had the fair’s first 1,000 pounder in 2008.
Ron and Kathy Moffett had multiple winners in the early 1990s. In 1991, they set the Canfield Fair record with a 544-pound Hungarian squash. The Moffetts were featured on The Today Show with Willard Scott.
The pumpkin show peaked in 1994 with more than 200 giant pumpkins and squash on display.
Glenn Orr had the world record in 2008 with a 154.5-pound Connecticut field pumpkin.
The current Canfield Fair record is held by Chuck Ellsworth set in 2010 with his 1,277.5 pounder.
Linda Lanterman is the current pumpkin show superintendent.
Stop by the Pumpkin Building at the Canfield Fair, Aug. 27-Sept. 1, to see the gourds, pumpkins and squash.
For more information, call Alan Gibson at 330-222-2215.
Canfield Fair Pumpkin Show champions (1962-1987):
1962: John Gavin, 85 pounds
1963: Charles Tribe, n/a
1964: Elbert Agnew, 168 pounds
1965: Gordon Gibson and sons, 147.5 pounds
1966: Bob Fox, n/a
1967: Bob Fox, 242 pounds
1968: Bob Fox, n/a
1969: Bob Fox, n/a
1970: Bob Fox, 183 pounds
1971: Albert Weikart, n/a
1973: Wayne Shipply, 198 pounds
1974: Ed Gancarz Jr., 236.5 pounds
1975: Ritz brothers, 275 pounds
1976: Joe Cusma, 253 pounds
1977: Joe Cusma, 264.5 pounds
1978: Richard Bartholomew, 319.5 pounds
1979: Ritz brothers, 286 pounds
1980: Ritz brothers, 334 pounds
1981: Richard Carr and Richard Bartholomew, 370 pounds
1982: Richard Carr and Richard Bartholomew, 396 pounds
1983: Ritz brothers, 301 pounds
1984: Ritz brothers, 431 pounds
1985: Gail Hippely, 359 pounds
1986: Ritz brothers, 348 pounds
1987: Harold Blachly, 349 pounds