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Old Colorado City has its biggest giant pumpkin ever in 11th annual weigh-off

Marc Sawtelle (right) poses with his 1,338-pound giant pumpkin in the Old Town Plaza Oct. 17. It was the largest in the 11 years that Old Colorado City has hosted a weigh-off. With him is Joe Scherber, a previous OCC winner who helped with the event and called himself Sawtelle's "coach." The board Scherber is holding up is hard to read, but "1338" is written on it.
Westside Pioneer photo
Colorado Springs resident Marc Sawtelle provided the biggest pumpkin in the 11-year history of the Old Colorado City Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off Oct. 17.
       The 1,338-pound orange monster easily took the $300 first prize over Betsy Oppelt (904 - $200) and Ron Franzen (801 - $100).
       The weigh-off in the Old Town Plaza at Colorado Avenue and 25th Street was part of the five-hour "Giant Festival" in Old Colorado City, which also included a band and Oz-themed kids' activities in the 2600 block and had characters dressed as Glinda the Good, the Tin Woodman, the Wicked Witch and Dorothy.
       Pam Gressett, the event coordinator for the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, was enthusiastic afterward. “The turnout was fantastic,” she said. “Everything went so smoothly. I know that all the vendors were very happy with attendance. The Oz theme was a big hit. The kids loved it.”
       This was the fourth time Sawtelle has won the local Giant Pumpkin competition since then-OCC merchant Charlie Cagiao got the historic district sanctioned as a weigh station under the national Great Pumpkin Commonwealth in 2005.
       Living in a house off East Fountain Boulevard, Sawtelle said he grows the massive vegetables in his backyard. The last time he won in Old Colorado City was in 2010, but he took a three-year break after that before taking third in 2014.
       Sawtelle described a unique reason to try again this year: encouragement from a fellow giant-pumpkin grower who was dying of leukemia. That was Barry Todd, a Littleton resident who had taken first place in Old Colorado City in 2011 and 2012. Knowing what was coming for himself and aware of Sawtelle's uncertainty, Todd told his friend to “plant a seed in a corner of your garden and see what happens,” Sawtelle recalled.
       When the product of that seed started getting huge, “he knew I'd take care of it,” Sawtelle said. “It rejuvenated me.”
       Also on hand, helping run the event and announcing himself
Characters from "The Wizard of Oz" helped run kids' activities in the 2600 block of West Colorado Avenue as part of the "Giant Festival" in Old Colorado City Oct. 17 that featured the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off.
Westside Pioneer photo
as Sawtelle's “coach,” was Joe Scherber, a Denver-area grower who holds the current state record of 1,478 pounds and had a 1,462-pounder at an earlier weigh-off elsewhere in the state this year. (No pumpkin can be entered in more than one event.)
       Here's a list of OCC's giant pumpkin winners over the years:
       · 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 - 1006 pounds
       · 2015 - Sawtelle - 1338 pounds

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 10/18/15; Business: Events)

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