Giant pumpkins coming to Old Town Oct. 1

       Friendly weather and good crowds graced Old Colorado City the weekend of Sept. 24-25 for Art on the Avenue, Taste of Old Colorado City and the Gallery Walks in the merchants' ongoing Scarecrow Days event.
       The finale will be this Saturday, Oct. 1, with the Great Pumpkin Weigh-off scheduled in the Town Clock parking lot at 25th Street and Colorado Avenue. According to Charlie Cagaio, the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group board member who organized the first-ever event, pumpkins weighing up to 800 pounds or more should begin arriving by 8 or 8:30 a.m.
       The weighing will commence about 11 a.m., with the winners announced between noon and 1 p.m.
       Also being announced at that time will be prizes in the OCCA's scarecrow-design competition for Scarecrow Days. There will be two sets of winners - those chosen from 46 on the street in the celebrity judging Sept. 17 and those chosen in citizen balloting over the past two weeks. Another announcement will be for the prizes in the Scarecrow Days children's coloring contest.
       Like the citizen scarecrow balloting, the submission deadline for the coloring contest is Sept. 30 at any participating Old Colorado City merchant's shop.
       The owner of the heaviest pumpkin will get $300, as well as the honor of a state record. That's because the OCCA has become the state's first sanctioned weigh station - actually the only one in the entire Rocky Mountain Region - for the national Great Pumpkin Commonwealth competition.
       So far, Cagaio said 18 people have pledged to bring pumpkins (two entries a person are allowed). Most are from the Springs, others are from around the state, and two more may drive in from Wyoming or Indiana.
       Visitors will also get a chance to try out some pumpkin pies and pumpkin- flavored fry bread, he said.
       I think it's going to be a good time, a great baptism for us to make it an annual event, Cagaio said
       He got the idea from his cousin, who lives in Colorado Springs and grows large pumpkins. The Citadel shopping center has had a pumpkin-weighing event in recent years, but it's not a sanctioned weighstation, so his cousin could not receive official recognition for his large, orange vegetables, Cagaio said.
       An unrelated event will add to to the festive atmosphere between 9 and 10 a.m. Saturday when the 36th annual Coronado High School Homecoming Parade (going east from 28th Street to Bancroft Park) streams down closed-off Colorado Avenue and past the pumpkinized parking lot.
       According to a web-site search, there are about five national groups that support sanctioned pumpkin-weighing efforts, and the Great Pumpkin Common-wealth is one of them, having started in the early '90s. At that time, no one had grown a pumpkin of more than 1,000 pounds, but seed improvements have resulted in pumpkins nowadays that are well over that weight.

From a press release