Fairfield County – Pumpkin Grower John Pritchard has weighed in two of his three giant pumpkins over the last few weeks, his last one 2,140 pounds, if successful with his last giant pumpkin he will be recognized and join the ranks of a Worldwide Award of the 4,300-pound club.
John Pritchard’s journey to Pumpkin Greatness started in 1999-2000 when he started growing giant pumpkins, weighing his first Giant Pumpkin at 269 pounds at the Circleville Pumpkin Show. He took a break while enlisted in the Army, and in 2018 he came back to the growing scene hyper-focused to push his skills to the limits. In 2018 Pritchard won 4th place and 5th place with two pumpkins at 1,049 and 958 pounds. In 2019 he showed 448 lbs of pumpkin, in 2020 he didn’t grow because the Pumpkin show was canceled, and in 2021 Pritchard came in with 2nd place and 9th with 1620 pounds and 901 pounds, and in 2022 he weighed in at 1,438 pounds scooping up 2nd place again.
This year Pritchard says that he’s aimed for an award this year that would add him to the International spotlight of the 4,300 Pound Club, an award from the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth a worldwide organization. The Award has a short list because it’s not easy to do. In order to win the award the grower must.
- Accumulate a total of 4,300 pounds of pumpkin squash, or a combination of each between their three heaviest fruit
- Must be officially weighed at three separate weigh-off events sanctioned by the GPC
- The pumpkins must all be grown in the same season.
- The grower must be present with their fruit at all events to be eligible.
Along with the above challenges GPC-sanctioned events are limited to just a handful in Ohio, and the Circleville Pumpkin Show is not one of them, so Pritchard has to travel his giant pumpkins all over the State.
Pritchard weighed in his first Giant Pumpkin at The Barnesville Pumpkin Festival, Barnesville, Ohio on September 20 at 1,406 lbs. His second and largest was weighed at The National Pumpkin Weigh-off on October 8, Dublin, OH at 2,140 lbs. his largest Pumpkin this year, the third but possibly still 2000 pounds will be weighed at The Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers Weigh-off, Canfield, OH on October 14.
Along with those awards, Pritchard was awarded the Howard Dill Award for the best-looking pumpkin, another Worldwide award. This prestigious and highly sought-after award is in honor of Howard Dill, known as the “Father of Giant Pumpkin Growing”, from Windsor Nova Scotia. His love of big beautiful orange pumpkins is the reason for this award. Color, symmetry, and size are the key elements for having success in this category.
“This is the first year I have named a pumpkin. The one I took to Dublin was named Patricia. I named her Patricia. I have a coworker/friend whose mother grew up in Nova Scotia. So I asked her if I could name it after her. It seems appropriate since Nova Scotia is the birthplace of the Atlantic Giant Pumpkin. Patricia is 90 years old and left when she got married but goes back frequently. Patricia has roots in Nova Scotia that trace back about 400 yrs to settlers who made the dykes and cultivated the land close to the Dill Farm. And she loves pumpkin pie.”
To reach the needed 4,300 pounds Pritchard only needs 754 pounds on his last Pumpkin, but his last Pumpkin is much heavier than that, he just needs to get it there.
“The one in Barnesville went 16% heavy. The National Pumpkin Weigh-off went 16% heavy. If the one I am taking to Canfield is 16% heavy based on the estimated weight, it will also exceed 2,000 lbs,” said Pritchard.
John Pritchard says that several growers told him, “that if I wanted to go for a jacket I needed to grow five pumpkins minimum because I would probably lose one or two. And since I needed to have three total, there was no safety net if I grew just three. But, I don’t have the patch space or time to grow more than three. So I set out on this venture with only three pumpkins. I think that made this tougher. I couldn’t lose one. So I had to go all in this year.”
“Doc Liggett has helped me tremendously along with other Circleville growers like Mark Litz, Ryan Morrison, and Steven Thornhill. Two growers in Ohio that I have become great friends that grew the last two Ohio State records. They all helped me. I couldn’t have done it without all of them on my team, plus a lot of hard work. My next goal is to hit 2,500 pounds. I think I can get more out of this seed I grew this year. It was my 1,620-pound pumpkin from the 2021 pumpkin show.”
Pritchard graduated OSU with a degree in agriculture and says he’s been around plants all his life, he also managed golf courses. Now he’s a lawyer but said he still likes to grow stuff.
“It’s a funny combination of Lawyer and Agriculturist but that’s life I guess.”
We will update this post when he weighs in his last pumpkin