Pumpkins not so giant; crowds undeterred

       The pumpkins were smaller but the attendance larger at the ninth annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off Oct. 19 in Old Colorado City.

In the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off in the Old Town Plaza Oct. 19, Gary Grande (tan hat, light blue shirt) celebrates with the crowd after his entry (next to him) tipped the scales at 608 pounds, good for first place.
Westside Pioneer photo

       With 100 to 200 or more onlookers packing the Old Town Plaza through most of the free event's five hours, “it was really crowded,” said Pam Gressett, who organized the activity for the sponsoring Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA). “I think it was the biggest one we've had.”
       The winner, Gary Grande, took home $300 with a pale yellow pumpkin weighing 608 pounds. The previous low for a winning pumpkin had been 701 pounds in the event's first year (2005).
       Grande said hail damage this summer was a problem, along with “too much water,” which makes big pumpkins grow too fast. As a result, of the seven he started, only four survived.

Kasten Accounting took first in the Best in Show category for handmade scarecrows displayed by Old Colorado City businesses. About 35 scarecrows were entered. The other Scarecrow Days category was Original Design (see photo).
Westside Pioneer photo

       Nevertheless, the year produced what was officially the heaviest pumpkin in state history, at 1,471 pounds, and Grande said he even had one at 1,386.
       The state-record grower, Joe Scherber (who had been an OCC winner in 2007), helped officiate at the Oct. 19 event; however, under Giant Pumpkin Common-wealth rules, a single pumpkin can only be entered in one competition. As a result, Scherber had to bring one of his smaller growths to OCC, which weighed in at “only” 562 pounds. This was still good enough for third place and $100.
       The $200 second-place prize went to Ron Franzen at 590 pounds.
       There were 24 entries. in all, including were several gourds and squashes, which were judged by their prettiness.

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