On the Ripley County County Courthouse Square in Versailles, two blocks north of U.S. 50. Look for the carnival sounds and lights!
Rain or shine, the stage shows go on, so bring your lawn chairs, and umbrellas or ponchos to ward off any precipitation!
Produced by the
Versailles Lions Club!
The Versailles Pumpkin Show was the brain child of Alfred H. Beer, the enterprising Versailles jeweler. Beer was eternally thinking of some advertising scheme for his jewelry business. In 1889 he topped all his former ideas by starting a “Pumpkin Show”. Other neighboring towns have tried to emulate his baby, but always failed.
On Saturday October 14, 1899, A.F. staged his first show, and he promised five prizes. Prize winners were: Geo. W. Watkins, from Elrod, won a gold-filled watch for the heaviest pumpkin, it weighted 74 pounds, 5 ounces; second prize went to Henry Stegemiller whose pumpkin was a 68 pounder, his prize was a gravy ladle; Christ Thomas, of Cross Plains won 3rd with a 64 pound pumpkin, he received six teaspoons; Thomas E. Wilson, Osgood native, won 4th, a fine clock, his pumpkin measured 5 feet and 3 inches in circumference; Ugliest Pumpkin winner was Henry Ballman of Versailles, he was rewarded with a violin.
Beer continued promoting the show each year until 1907 when the merchants of Versailles, finally realizing its merits, got together and stage the annual show. If you believe the old newspapers, each succeeding year drew the largest crowd ever. Farm products, flower arrangements, fancy sewing, culinary skill and other handicrafts were judged for prizes. Later, parades were stage, and each year these became a larger crowd draw. Finally, commercial rides were added, much to the delight of the younger set. Lastly, a big “Pumpkin Show Saturday Night Dance” added to the fun. An Annual art show is a yearly event today.
For many years, neighboring town businessmen sponsored aerial acts, stage acts, etc, which were enjoyed by the crowd. This all stemmed from A.F. Beer’s little business scheme, and is one of the longest running shows in the state.