Pumpkin Show sees record crowd

Wanda English Burnett

Picture perfect weather brought record crowds to the 108th Versailles Pumpkin Show last week. According to Lion Jerry Gilpin, vice-president of the event, Wednesday night ticket sales reflected a record of 16,000 rides being taken that night alone.

Hank Nicholson of Versailles took the title of having the biggest pumpkins in both the Open Class and Ripley County Class. The giant pumpkins weighed in at 721 pounds in the open category and 693 in the Ripley County category.

Second place in the Open Class category went to Walter (Jr.) Renfro for his 565 pound pumpkin and third went to Bill Hughes for his 508 pound pumpkin. In the Ripley County category, Adam Nordhoff took second with a 539 pound pumpkin and Regina Nordhoff claimed third place with her 480 pound pumpkin.

A television crew from RFD TV were on hand Saturday to capture the flavor of the Pumpkin Show. They filmed a variety of festivities including the parade. This will air next year about a month before the Pumpkin Show, according to Gilpin. The exact times will be published in the local newspapers.

On opening night the King and Queen and their court were chosen to reign over the four day festival. The King was Andrew DeCilles, representing Oldenburg Academy and the Queen was Emily Barrett of South Dearborn High School. Their court included first runners up, Tyler Kerker, Batesville High School and Audrey Furnish, Switzerland County High School; second runners up, Dylan Griffith, Switzerland County High School and Rebecca Swinney, South Ripley High School.
Thursday night more royalty was crowned as the Prince and Princess and their court were chosen.
The event, sponsored by Ripley Publishing Company, saw a record crowd as 14 first graders were interviewed by Wanda English Burnett, editor of the Osgood Journal and The Versailles Republican.

Judges from outside the county chose Kylie Reuter, South Ripley Elementary, as the Princess and Justin Swinney, Jac-Cen-Del Elementary, as the Prince. Their court included: first runners up, Riley Clark, Milan Elementary; Max (M.J.) Hartman, St. Nicholas Catholic School; second runners up, Olivia Arnold, Sunman Elementary; and Cole Booker, Sunman Elementary.

Following the crowning of royalty, winners of the 22nd Annual Pumpkin Baking Contest, sponsored by Ripley Publishing Co., were named. (See Thursday’s paper for all the winners pictures and categories)

The Best of Show baking award went to Mike Stratton of Holton, for his pumpkin pie. He was presented $200, a plaque and apron by Linda Chandler, publisher of the Osgood Journal and The Versailles Republican.

Other winners received cash prizes with first place winners also receiving aprons designed by Natalie Gilpin of Versailles.

The annual Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest drew a large and noisy crowd as students from area schools gathered to cheer on their candidates. Jac-Cen-Del senior Megan Joseph took the top honor for the girl eating the most pumpkin pie and South Ripley’s Justin Gullion was the winner hands down as he ate every bite, even a little that was flung onto the table during the contest.

Sources say Gullion had been planning to be in the pie eating contest since the fifth grade and even wrote pie eater 2010 on his cleanly shaven head.

Friday night high winds blew in the afternoon causing a couple of tents to be taken out. That didn’t dampen the spirits of those attending festivities that evening.

Saturday dawned cooler with lots of sunshine for the popular parade day. The big pumpkins were weighed in first at 8 a.m. Parade entrants began lining up early getting their place in line. The parade kicked off at 10:30 with a prayer from Rev. Jim Byerly of the Tyson United Methodist Church. He also sang the National Anthem when the Versailles American Legion Color Guard were in place at the stage area.

The parade had about 150 entries with the best float going to Patterson’s Nursery for their beautifully landscaped float complete with fall flowers. The Youth Organization float entry winning first place was the South Ripley/JCD FFA float with second going to the Youth Followers.

Tri Kappa won first place in the Organization category with Aurora Lions Club taking second. The Versailles Church of Christ won first in the Religious Organizations category with Cedar Creek Community Church taking second. Agri-Business float first place went to Menchhofer Seed Service and second to Fraley Truck & Implement Sales. The Business float entry taking first place was the United Community Bank with Top Flight Athletics being chosen as second place winner.

More festivities followed the parade with great stage entertainment, a pedal tractor pull, pumpkin decorating and more.

The cheerleading contest was held Saturday afternoon with East Central claiming the first place prize, South Ripley took second and Switzerland County was third.

Stacy Lynn & the Wildcards finished out the stage entertainment for the 108th annual event on the square in Versailles.

There were no festivities on Sunday, but members of the Versailles Lions Club could be found on the square cleaning up, tearing down and getting ready for next year.

While the exact event could not be revealed due to working out the details, something is in the works to make next year even better for those attending.

The Versailles Pumpkin Show is the Lions Club’s largest fundraiser with all of the proceeds put directly back into the community they serve. Lions Club President Richard Zinz noted that he was pleased with how things turned out this year and plans are in the making for the 109th event.

There are still Pumpkin Show T-shirts, pumpkins and gourds available at Gilpin’s Monuments on US 421 South in Versailles for those who weren’t able to get them during the show this year.

Pictured at left is Prince Justin Swinney of Jac-Cen-Del, just after he was crowned on Thursday evening. He is the son of Rodney and Jennifer Swinney. Princess Kylie Reuter is also pictured. She represents South Ripley Elementary. She is the daughter of John and Sue Reuter. The Prince and Princess Contest is sponsored by Ripley Publishing Co.
Two pumpkins weighed in at over 1,400 lbs. That's a lot of pumpkin!
After the big pumpkins were weighed in (pictured below) Hank Nicholson of Versailles is pictured above with both of his pumpkins. They took top spot in both the Ripley County category (693 pounds) and the Open category (721 pounds).