Over 1,000 (pounds and people)

       It was an even-numbered year, so it must have been Marc Sawtelle's turn to win again at the annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off in Old Colorado City.

Third-time Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off winner Marc Sawtelle (in blue shirt, sun-glasses on forehead) watches a forklift lower the second of his two entries onto the scale in the Old Town Plaza parking lot.
Westside Pioneer photo

       With an entry tipping the scales at 1,109 pounds, the Colorado Springs resident easily triumphed over his friend and perennial growing rival Doug Minix, who came in second at 841 pounds.
       It was Sawtelle's third victory since the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group began sponsoring the event - sanctioned by the national Great Pumpkin Commonwealth - at the Old Town Plaza in 2005. Sawtelle previously earned the $300 first prize in 2006 and 2008, with Minix winning in 2005 (a tie with his wife Sue's pumpkin) and 2009.
       Second place got $200, third place $100.
       Third this year was claimed by Jannine Cabossel of Santa Fe, N.M., whose 421-pound pumpkin set a New Mexico state record. Although that may seem small by Colorado standards, she pointed to her town's 7,200-elevation and noted that sub-freezing temperatures had kept her from getting seed in the ground until June. The previous state record had been 404, she said.
       By comparison, Colorado's record is 1,283 pounds (set by a Littleton grower), and the national mark is 1,725 pounds (Ohio), according to the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth website.
       Sawtelle was pleased with his win, but professsed to feeling a little tired of raising giant pumpkins. I'm thinking about taking a break, he said.
       If he does, he'll have some new landscaping opportunities at his house. He estimated that the four pumpkins he produced this year - he would have had six, but squirrels got two of them - took up about 2,400 square feet of yard space.

Kids climb on the 1,109-pound champion.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Sawtelle's winning pumpkin was actually not his biggest this year. He entered one weighing 1,111 pounds at a September competition in Denver, but that only earned him fifth place, he said.
       Sawtelle also brought a second pumpkin to Old Colorado City. It also weighed over 1,000 pounds, but the rules allow only one entry per competitor.
       OCCA organizer Melissa Bernal said she was pleased with the event, estimating that more than 1,000 people dropped by during the roughly four hours it lasted. A common sight was children trying to climb on top of the largest pumpkins for family photo opps.
       Here are the winners and weights from the previous Giant Pumpkin Weigh-offs in Old Colorado City:
  • 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.

    Westside Pioneer article