Craig resident Red Cortner gives away pumpkins for fifth year |

Craig resident Red Cortner gives away pumpkins for fifth year

Nicole Inglis
Red Cortner shows off pumpkins he brought to Craig from Pueblo to give to children. Cortner plans to give away pumpkins Saturday in front of Homemaker Furnishings.
Shawn McHugh

If you go

What: Pumpkin giveaway for children younger than 12

Where: Homemaker Furnishings, 468 Ranney St.

When: 8 a.m. to noon

For more information call Homemaker Furnishings at 826-2706.

If you go

What: Wyman's Pumpkin Patch

Where: Wyman Museum, 94350 E. U.S. Highway 40

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, call 824-6346.

Nobody knows what a good pumpkin is, Craig resident Red Cortner said, because there’s no pumpkin that’s any better than another.

Any one of Cortner’s hundreds of pumpkins could be the perfect canvas for carving or painting in the spirit of Halloween.

“You can take a really ugly one, and you can do something with it,” he said, as he fished a misshapen pumpkin the size of a basketball from a nearby crate. “See, you could make eyes or a nose with this dirt here. All it takes is a little imagination.”

Cortner returned Tuesday from a farm he owns near Pueblo with a trailer filled with more than 700 pumpkins to give away to local children Saturday.

Excluding last year, when his crop of pumpkins was ruined by hail, Cortner has given away pumpkins for five years in front of his business, Homemaker Furnishings, at 468 Ranney St.

Starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, local children can stop by and pick up the pumpkin of their choice.

Any leftover pumpkins will be donated to the Rangely School District.

“It’s supposed to be kindergarten to fifth grade, I think, but we cheat a little sometimes,” he said. “I’d give a pumpkin to any kid who wanted one.”

Since his wife taught in the Moffat County School District and he brought pumpkins into her classes, Cortner has taken an interest in the delights of local children during what he calls a “no-nonsense” holiday.

“Little kids get tons of toys at Christmas,” he said. “But, who out there treats little kids good at Halloween? Kids love Halloween, and everyone has a Halloween story,” he said.

Everyone except him.

Growing up in Southeastern Colorado, Cortner rode a horse to school until sixth grade.

He said he doesn’t remember ever dressing up or trick-or-treating for Halloween.

“When you work on a ranch, every day’s a holiday and every meal’s a feast,” he said. “But it’s really a kid’s holiday. Parents don’t have to spend a lot of money. And there are a lot of poor kids in town. I’m really in it for the enjoyment of the kids.”

He said he has owned the property in Pueblo for about 30 years. He rotates the crops he grows, and about five years ago decided to start trucking the pumpkins to Craig.

After the children take their pumpkins, they usually take them home to decorate or carve designs to display on their front porches, Cortner said.

On Saturday, children can pick up their pumpkins and head to Wyman Museum for “Wyman’s Pumpkin Patch,” an event featuring pumpkin decorating, hay rides, sheep races and another opportunity to pick the perfect pumpkin.

“You can paint one side and carve the other,” Cortner said. “You can get double the fun out of it.”

Overall, Cortner’s annual investment in his pumpkin patch is about $2,500.

But it is more than worth it.

“Kids need some free stuff,” he said. “It does cost some money. But how do you measure happiness?”

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