Westside Pioneer Home Page

A forklift can't quite do it all, as helpers discover with a problematic entry as it was being delivered to the scales in the 14th annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off Oct. 20 in Old Colorado City's Colorado Square parking lot.
Westside Pioneer photo

Sawtelle wins 4th straight (7th overall) in OCC Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off

After his victory was announced in Old Colorado City's 2018 Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off Oct. 20, grower Marc Sawtelle stood on his vast vegetable, basking in the applause from more than 100 people ringing the weighing area.
Westside Pioneer photo
Oct. 21, 2018
       For the fourth year in a row and the seventh time in 14 years, local grower Marc Sawtelle took first place Oct. 20 in the Old Colorado City Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off.
       At 1,146 pounds, his burly behemoth bested the second-place entry of 1,050 pounds from Denver-area grower Joe Scherber. Cash prizes went to the first three places.
       Encircled by a large, attentive throng in the 2600 block's Colorado Square commercial center, the weigh-off was the highlight of an annual promotion by the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group that has grown into the title of Giant Pumpkin Festival.
       Its success was evident by the crowd in Old Town during the roughly four-hour span, boosting the historic district's typical shopping numbers on a nice Saturday in October by at least 1,000 people.
       As heavy as Sawtelle's winning entry was, it was still short of his 2015 Old Colorado City record of 1,338 pounds.
       The state record is 1,685 pounds. The mark was set in 2016 by Scherber, who also won the Old Colorado City weigh-off in 2007.
       By further comparison, a Washington Post article states that a new world record was set this month at 2,624.6 pounds, by a Belgian grower at the European championship in Germany.
       The OCC event is one of many sanctioned nationally by the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth organization, including some in Colorado.
       Sawtelle described this as a year that tested his giant-pumpkin dedication. A Salvation Army truck driver, he said his work requirements through the growing season often meant 12 hours a day on the job, forcing him to choose at times between sleep and caring for his growing gourd. Some nights he would be
While the weighing went on in the Colorado Square (mostly out of view at right), the row of giant-pumpkin entries sat along the parkway next to the closed-off right lane of westbound Colorado Avenue (where the semitractor/trailer is parked at left). In the foreground is Marc Sawtelle's eventual winner, being touched with apparent reverence by a small child.
Westside Pioneer photo
out in his garden watering by the glow of a head lamp, he recalled.
       His previous victories were 2006, 2008, 2010 and every year since 2015 (see the OCC winners and weights at the bottom of this article).
       Many of Old Town's visitors Oct. 20 also found their way to the Farmers Market in Bancroft Park and the Old Colorado City Historical Society craft fair (outside the museum/bookstore across the street), in their last days of the year. Both have operated on Saturday mornings and early afternoons since early June.
       Other festival activities included mini-pumpkin decorating at the Old Colorado City Library, a band in the commercial parking lot at 27th and Colorado and a “kids zone” plus the Witcheroos dance group in the Old Town Plaza at 25th and Colorado.
       For the giant-pumpkin weighing, a total of 10 growers had signed up in advance, according to Brittany Bastian, event organizer for the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group.
       The weigh-off was set up for maximum curbside appeal, with the super squashes laid out in a row along the grass parkway in front of the Old Colorado Square. The
Crowds of people made their way to Old Colorado City for the annual Giant Pumpkin Festival Oct. 20. Bancroft Park was no exception. This view looks from the corner of 24th and Colorado into the Farmers Market (the last of the season there).
Westside Pioneer photo
avenue's westbound right lane was even blocked off, with the help of a parked semi-tractor/trailer, which allowed people to admire the large legumes from all sides.
       Using heavy-duty straps and pallets, a forklift transported the pumpkins - one at a time starting with the smaller ones and working up to the biggest - to a wide, flat weighing scale in the lot nearby.
       This was the second year that the weigh-off was held in Colorado Square (which includes Jake & Telly's restaurant). From 2005 to 2016, Old Town Plaza had been used.
       Under the rules a single pumpkin can only be entered in one event. There are several weigh-offs around Colorado each fall. Scherber himself recently won in Fort Collins with a bigger pumpkin he'd grown, which weighed 1,568 pounds.
       A relatively small number of growers around the state are involved in the hobby, and they're “like a community,” Scherber elaborated, even sharing the seeds from pumpkins they've had success with. For example, he said - with only a slightly regretful chuckle - that he gave Sawtelle the seed that became this year's Old Colorado City winner.
       Here is the full list of OCC's giant pumpkin winners since the event started:
       · 2005 - Doug Minix and Sue Bowers (tie) - 701 pounds
       · 2006 - Marc Sawtelle - 774 pounds
       · 2007 - Joe Scherber - 1,005 pounds
       · 2008 - Sawtelle - 1,111 pounds
       · 2009 - Minix - 1,000 pounds
       · 2010 - Sawtelle - 1,109 pounds
       · 2011 - Barry Todd - 751 pounds
       · 2012 - Todd - 900 pounds
       · 2013 - Gary Grande - 608 pounds
       · 2014 - Jim Grande - 1,006 pounds
       · 2015 - Sawtelle - 1,338 pounds
       · 2016 - Sawtelle - 1,231 pounds
       · 2017 - Sawtelle - 1,304 pounds
       · 2018 - Sawtelle - 1,146 pounds

Westside Pioneer article
(Business: Events)

Would you like to respond to this article? The Westside Pioneer welcomes letters at editor@westsidepioneer.com. (Click here for letter-writing criteria.)