It’s the Great Pumpkin!
This week, Local Time welcomes guest writers Sherrie Horn and Nina Gamotis, who share their experiences at a fun local event.
Every year hundreds of farmers from all over the world, both amateur and professional, nurture and pamper their prized pumpkins for months in order to claim the title Largest Giant Pumpkin at their local, state and national competitions. Farmers start their pumpkins with strong genetics, lots of water and perfected fertilizer, and tender loving care, even blanketing them every night to keep them from drying out. The end result is pumpkins weighing into the thousands of pounds. The current world record holder is Mathias Willemijns from Belgium. His Atlantic pumpkin weighed in at 1,190.5 Kg. (or around 2,623 pounds) in the annual contest held in Ludwigsburg, located in southwestern Germany.
Our own local Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off began on October 22 at 10:00 am when farmers from all over Southern Colorado began rolling their prized pumpkins into Old Colorado City. At 12:00 pm, after much anticipation, the weigh-in began with the “smaller” pumpkins weighing in between 300-500 pounds (by comparison, the average pumpkin found at the local grocery store weighs around 8-10 pounds with the largest ones topping the scale at around 30 pounds).
On this unusually bright and sunny 75-degree fall day, hundreds of bystanders watched as each pumpkin was carefully transported to the scale. Farmers from young to old proudly stood by their prized pumpkins for photos and commentary about their methods and processes. There were two categories of giants: orange pumpkins and green squashes. Around 2:00 pm the giant vegetables’ fates unfolded. In the end the pumpkins prevailed with 3rd place weighing in at 696 pounds, 2nd place at 829 pounds and 1st place weighing in at a monstrous 1231 pounds, only 247 pounds away from the Colorado state record of 1,478 pounds grown by Joe Scherber in 2013.
All of Old Colorado City gathered together to indulge in activities for the whole family from face painting, games, spinning wheels and interacting with characters from The Wizard of Oz at the Giant Kid’s Zone to sidewalk sales all along Colorado Avenue. The event coincided with the weekly farmers’ market at Bancroft Park. Children came ready for the costume contest, but there were as many adults as kids in costume. The pumpkin patch welcomed each child and child at heart. From 11:00 am-2:00 pm the Giant Courtyard Celebration boomed live music throughout the town, including some oldies but goodies and classic country hits as local groups Sweets & Beats Band and The Wallbaum Band took the stage.
Scarecrow Days in Old Colorado City spans the whole month of October, as evidenced by the many scarecrow displays all around town. The stores all bustled with energy, offering special sales and discounts for shoppers. We visited the Welcome Center where we received a free souvenir Old Colorado City tote and took a ton of pictures by the Log House, home of the first county clerk, Irving Howbert. Denver named Colorado City, now known as Old Colorado City, the capitol of El Paso County from 1862-1867. The Log House is the only remaining building associated with the second assembly of government.
This town is full of eclectic artists, interesting characters and very opinionated citizens. We met a budding artist who showed us some of his work and explained how he believes art and geometry intertwine and are the basis for the fundamentals of life through a pattern described as “The Flower of Life” by Drunvalo Melchizedek.
We also met a proud 86-year-old naturalized citizen who immigrated to the USA in the 1960s. As an entrepreneur she owns and runs her own boutique, selling intricate lace, quilts and fancy clothing with a little extra bling on it. She told us her story about her naturalization to the USA, her husband’s death seven years ago after a battle with cancer, her adventures with operating four different boutiques at once, her son living in Washington DC and her retirement in the near future.
We took pictures by and met the owner of a mint condition 1956 Studebaker pick-up truck. He told us how he knew the original owner who purchased the truck directly from the factory in 1956. When the original owner passed away, his daughter inherited the truck and eventually sold it to him. The paint color is factory original and he still has the original title.
We were asked several times if were “West-siders” and registered to vote. We listened to the spiel about how a certain candidate would help the community and work together with its citizens for a better town before admitting that although we were registered, we were “East-siders.”
We also visited the Michael Garman Magic Town of miniatures. This world-renowned sculptor from Texas started selling his wares in the streets in South America to fund his travels, and has grown into an internationally recognized artist. Magic Town included several city blocks miniaturized with intricate detail. Garman prides himself on making art affordable to the average person by reproducing his sculptures in mass quantity rather than producing only exclusive limited editions affordable by only the elite upper class. Garman is a “West-sider.” In fact, all the streets in Magic Town are named after streets in his former neighborhood of Holland Park.
We enjoyed our sojourn to Old Colorado City, took advantage of the abundance of free parking, and thoroughly enjoyed all the activities surrounding the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off. Sounds like somebody’s going to be making a lot of pie.
Sherrie Horn (right) was raised in Southern California and served for over 20 years in the US Air Force. She completed her Master’s degree in education at the University of Northern Colorado in 2014 and works as a middle school gifted education teacher in Colorado Springs. Her interests include photography, scrapbooking, camping, hiking and anything outdoors.
Nina Gamotis (left) is a former teacher, published poet, ordained international Christian minister, retired government para-contractor, and lover of life. Nina hopes to convey through writing the deep thoughts and feelings that permeate the human mind and soul, in hopes that readers will find value in themselves through a connection with her work. She currently resides in Longview, Washington.