Big day for pumpkins in Old Town

       Promotions for the fifth annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off in Old Colorado City Oct. 3 talked about the potential of having specimens weighing 1,000 pounds.
   
Scenes from the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off Oct. 3 in Old Colorado City...
ABOVE: After the official announcement that his pumpkin weighed 1,000 pounds and took first place, Doug Minix (center) is congratulated by Gary Grande (left), president of the Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers, and Mark Sawtelle, last year's winner and this year's runner-up.
ABOVE RIGHT: The event's forklift carries the Minix pumpkin to the scales shortly before it was weighed.
Westside Pioneer photos

       The event lived up to that billing - exactly, as it turned out. A pumpkin that was weighed twice to verify its 1,000 pounds took first place in the competition. Winner Doug Minix of Colorado Springs (with wife and fellow gardener Sue Bowers) grinned happily at their the triumph over second-place Mark Sawtelle at 954 pounds and third place Jim Grande at 766, not to mention their first-ever four-digit pumpkin (in terms of pounds).
       In all, there were 12 official entries in the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth-sanctioned weigh-off, plus six that were exhibition only under Commonwealth rules, according to Charles Irwin, president of the event-sponsoring Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group.
       The pumpkins were on display for several hours in the Old Town Plaza parking lot, attracting hundreds of people who strolled through or stuck around to watch the drama on the scales - the event having been organized to ensure that the heaviest-appearing pumpkins were weighed last, according to OCCA marketing director Seiko Tran. As it was, the last three, in order, were Grande's, Sawtelle's and Minix's.
       There was no rivalry between winner and second place, despite the closeness of the sizes and the fact that the Minix monster sprouted from a seed provided by Sawtelle (last year's winner at 1,111 pounds). The two are long-time friends. “I put his hot water heater in,” Minix laughed. “He better not charge me.”

People check out some of the 18 giant pumpkins at the event.
Westside Pioneer photo

       “I think it's great,” Sawtelle said.
       Minix had won in the first year of the event in 2005 (a tie with Bowers, each with 701-pound pumpkin). This year the rules did not allow couples to bring in separate pumpkins, Bowers pointed out.
       She said their pumpkin did not require too much extra effort, and was watered with a “sprinkler system on a timer.”
       As for her husband getting the credit, she was fine with that. “He can have a beer now,” she chuckled.
       The OCCA gave cash prizes to the top three places. The event was “an overwhelming success,” Irwin summed up.

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