BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF) – This is the time of year when competitive pumpkin growers really ramp up their game.

In Belmont County, the race is coming down the home stretch because the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival weigh-in is this week.

There’s a new competitor this year–not an individual but a group. They are incarcerated adults at the Belmont Correctional Institution. You won’t see their faces or hear their voices. But you’re about to see what they’ve worked on every day–all summer.

The biggest question at the prison these days isn’t about the prison. It’s about the pumpkin.

“How much does that pumpkin weigh? Are you gonna enter it in the Circleville? Are you gonna enter it in the Barnesville?”

Belmont Correctional Institution Warden David Gray

The answers are yes, it will be entered in the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival.

“We’re hoping somewhere in that 1,400 pound range is our best hope, but we don’t know for sure ’til we get it on the scale.”

Belmont Correctional Institution Warden David Gray

They started with five seeds. They all sprouted, but two of the plants didn’t thrive. Now they have three plants, each with one pumpkin. They started in the spring with a soil test, and seeds from proven giant pumpkins.

“Between that and the guys taking care of ’em like they did, they’re in the patch every single day. They can’t wait to get these things on the scale Wednesday afternoon at Barnesville so we can really find out how much the big pumpkin weighs.”

John Jaskowiak, Correctional Officer

“They have a very nice pumpkin over here for sure. I’m gonna say top ten, potentially top ten for sure. I was really amazed to come in here and see what I’m seeing here today.”

Dean Wehr, Weigh Master, Barnesville Pumpkin Festival