KENOVA — A 1,803-pound pumpkin made its way to Kenova on Friday afternoon as the West Virginia Pumpkin House prepares to reopen for the 2021 season.
Due to the size and placement of the pumpkin, it took about two hours to get it from the trailer to its resting stand.
The pumpkin comes from Robert Cyrus, of Fort Gay, who has been growing giant pumpkins since 2015 and has competed in weight competitions up and down the East Coast. This year, he’s happy to have the giant pumpkin on display in his home county.
“I’ve had pumpkins go all over — Tennessee, Florida, tons of places — but to have it here is great,” Cyrus said. “Any time people get enjoyment from these pumpkins is great.”
Cyrus sold the pumpkin to Ric Griffith, owner of the Pumpkin House, to be carved and included in this year’s display.
The Pumpkin House will officially open Oct. 22 to welcome volunteers to help carve the roughly 3,000 pumpkins to be displayed. This year’s display is expected to include presidents’ faces, song lyrics and more carved into the pumpkins.
Griffith said he is excited to have the giant pumpkin included this year, and he hopes this is the beginning of a yearly tradition.
“It’s amazing,” Griffith said. “And I hope this is the start of a continued partnership because it’s just incredible to have a pumpkin this big on display here, and it was grown right here in Wayne County.”
Local artist Sassa Wilkes has been hired to carve the giant pumpkin.
Wilkes, a former art education and drawing professor at Marshall University and art teacher at Cabell Midland High School, has had a variety of art installations throughout Huntington. In 2020, she was recognized for her showcase, “100 Badass Women,” a series of oil paintings highlighting notable women of history.
Wilkes said she is excited for the chance to carve the giant pumpkin, as it is an opportunity she has never had.
“I was looking up pictures of giant pumpkins the other day because I couldn’t even think about how big a 1,800-pound pumpkin is,” she said. “I’m so excited because this is something different that I’ve never done before and I’m going to be able to look back on it and think, ‘Wow, I really did that.’”
Wilkes said her entire family enjoys fall and Halloween celebrations, and she grew up going to the Pumpkin House, the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival and any other events she could as a child.
Now, she is grateful to be able to contribute to the display so others can enjoy the fall season.
While a design for the 1,803-pound pumpkin has not been decided, Wilkes said she will discuss potential carvings with Griffith.
Due to rising COVID-19 cases in Wayne County and surrounding areas, Griffith is encouraging all visitors for the Pumpkin House to wear masks and practice social distancing. He said he is excited to welcome everyone back for the fall festivities but encourages everyone to be as safe as possible.