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Early in the Old Colorado City Giant Festival Oct. 21, eager crowds in the Colorado Square parking lot gather around several of the pumpkins that would later be contested for OCC's 13th annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off.
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6th pumpkin prize for Sawtelle in increasingly popular OCC festival

Oct. 23, 2017
Marc Sawtelle (left) receives congratulations after the scales revealed that (for the sixth time in 13 years) his was the heaviest giant pumpkin in the Old Colorado City event.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Marc Sawtelle tightened his claim to the mythical title of Old Colorado City's King of the Pumpkins Oct. 21 with a 1,304-pound colossus.
       It was the 13th annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off in Old Town, and this marked Sawtelle's sixth victory and third in a row. He set the event record of 1,338 pounds in 2015.
       By comparison, the state record, set in 2016, sits at 1,685 pounds.
       Sawtelle's vast vegetation was oddly shaped, with the area around the stem looking as if it grew to form a seat. “It's ugly, but it's heavy,” he laughingly commented.
       The contest was the flashpoint of the increasingly popular “Giant Festival” that the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group has been nurturing around that theme in recent years with the care Sawtelle probably gives to his pumpkins.
       Included this year were a street band, Wizard of Oz characters, a dance group called the Witcheroos, games, vendors and merchants - many of them offering specials - happy to see hordes of visitors strolling past their stores.
       There was no way to count how many people came during the free seven-hour event, but OCCA President Julie Fabrizio agreed that attendance was well over
Two members of the Witcheroos group perform a choreographed dance in the parking lot of the Old Town Plaza during the Old Colorado City Giant Festival Oct. 21. About a dozen area women in witch costumes - presenting a variety of styles - make up the group.
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1,000, and Bud Gressett of Shoestring Productions (which organized the affair for the OCCA) was thinking five-digit numbers.
       “It was shoulder to shoulder where the pumpkins were at 9 a.m., and it stayed that way until 3:30,” he commented.
       Grown from special seeds, giant pumpkins have proven to be a draw, but the trick of it for the OCCA is that a single pumpkin can only be entered in one event, and there are several weigh-offs around Colorado each fall. To make sure the OCC festival stays competitive - particularly with it currently being the last one of the season - the OCCA doubled the award amount this year.
       Thus, Sawtelle took home $600, twice his reward from the five previous triumphs.
       In another OCCA response to the event's increasing popularity, the business group moved the weigh-off location this year to the parking lot outside the Colorado Square commercial center in the 2600 block of Colorado Avenue. For the event's first 12 years, the scales had been set up at the Old Town Plaza at 25th and Colorado, which has a smaller parking lot.
       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

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(Business: Events)

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