2 pumpkins over 1,000 pounds in Old Town event

       Hundreds of people swarmed through the Old Town Plaza parking lot for a pumpkin experience Oct. 6. ABOVE: Rich Weatherbee, who lives on the Westside,
demonstrated carving techniques for onlookers during the
Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off. Inset photo shows one of his
creations during the afternoon. RIGHT: Joe and Michelle
Scherber are barely visible behind Joe’s first-place, 
1,008-pound pumpkin.
Colton Anderson photo
       There was a pumpkin carver, a pumpkin bake sale, “pumpkin patch” kids' games and - clearly the main draw - giant pumpkins that growers had trucked in from around the state.
       In all, there were 29 entries for cash prizes in three categories - pumpkins, squash and gourds - at the Old Colorado City weigh station in the national Giant Pumpkin competition.
       Sagging the scales the farthest was the 1,008-pound pumpkin by Joe Scherber of Wheatridge, with a 1,005.5-pounder by Marc Sawtelle of Colorado Springs (last year's winner) coming in a close second.
       The winner got $300 and an overnight stay in Cripple Creek; second got $200; and third (Doug Minix, with an 829-pounder that would have won last year), getting $150.
       Scherber just missed his own state record of 1,075 pounds (which he'd set a week earlier at a contest in Denver), according to event organizer Nancy Stovall of the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group.
       Other first prizes were for squash (Sawtelle, 956.5 pounds - breaking the state record in a fairly new category) and longest gourd (Michelle Scherber, 104.5 inches). Each garnered the winner $100 and a Cripple Creek overnight.
       Stovall called the crowd “probably the biggest we've had” since the annual event started three years ago. “There were times when the parking lot was absolutely packed,” she said. “The bake sale sold out of everything, and we gave out all our free prizes at the kids' tent. I thought all in all it was fantastic.”
       She credited volunteers Theresa Barbera, Donna Heikes and Lynda Dunne for their help.
       Stovall was also pleased with the number of growers/entries, which was nearly three times that of previous years. “We worked hard with the growers,” she said. “They were talking to each other, and they could see it would go a whole lot smoother than in the past.”
       The pumpkins are not accidents; they are grown from prize seeds, often sold on Internet sites.

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