September 8, 2004 by

Nick Venetucci


Categories: Misc.

In Colorado Springs, Colo., Dominic T. “Nick” Venetucci was known as the Pumpkin Man.

For more than 50 years, the humble farmer invited area children to visit his ranch and pick out a free pumpkin. School buses filled with kids would arrive at the Venetucci pumpkin patch every October to celebrate the annual harvest and select the perfect jack-o-lantern for Halloween.

As a boy, Venetucci dreamed of being a professional baseball player. He even landed a spot as a catcher in the New York Yankee’s farm system, but returned home in the 1930s to work on his family’s ranch. Over the next seven decades, Venetucci made a living selling sweet corn, alfalfa and asparagus, but he grew hundreds of pumpkins each year just for the kids.

In honor of his generosity, the Widefield School District renamed an elementary school after Venetucci in 1985. A bronze statue of the Pumpkin Man, designed by sculptor Fred Darpino, is scheduled to be unveiled in October.

Venetucci died on Sept. 7 following a stroke. He was 93.

16 Responses to Nick Venetucci

  1. Lisa Gazarek Ostrow

    When I was a tiny girl of 4-1/2, I visited Mr. Venetucci’s farm for the very first time. I was with my classmates, a group of children from the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. My first, and uppermost impression, of this kind and gentle man, was of his hands. Those very same hands that lovingly worked the land, were the very same strong but gentle hands that held me up over the fence so that I might touch a pig for the very first time, so that I might see what it looked like.
    That was 33 years ago. Through the years, I have remained in touch with Nick and his wife, Bambi, (my very first teacher and known to me as Miss Marc), and when I visited them again in the summer of 1997, after many years of absence, I am not ashamed to admit that the touch of Nick’s hand on mine brought tears to my eyes. Nick’s hands, to me, embody all that he was–warm, gentle, larger than life. I’ll miss you, Mr. Venetucci.

  2. Jeff Miller

    I haven’t lived in Fountain Colorado for some 10 years now, but a year never went by that we didn’t try to buy some Silver Queen corn from Nick. I was able to grow some sweet corn successfully one year and one year only! Nick on the other hand had an excellent crop most of the time. He indeed had a talent for growing corn in an otherwise short and harsh environment.
    He will remain an Icon for the children and good will ambassador to the rest of us. Oh yeah, and one darn good farmer! You will truly be missed, as one misses a legend. God Bless you, Jeff

  3. Ron

    My now 26 year old daughter is autistic and spent her grade school years in special ed classes. Each year her class would join the trong of children at Nick Venetucci’s pumpkin farm where all, including my daughter, picked their special pumpkin. My daughter’s always seemed to me to be the small scrawny one that maybe no one else wanted, but I was assured by her teacher that it was the one she picked and she always came home hugging it to her chest like a prized possession. Sometimes they were so small that my wife couldn’t get her hand inside to clean it before carving. But together mother and daughter made it work. Then a face, a votive inside and it was her pumpkin. It set outside, lit, well beyond Holloween, until it was so wrinkled it didn’t look like a pumpkin anymore. To this day, one of the things Mom, Dad, and Daughter do is shop the boxes and boxes of pumpkins in front of Walmart while she picks the perfect pumpkin. I’m generally worn out afterward because I have to dig with her deep into the boxes so that she doesen’t miss seeing every one. Mom and Daughter still bond over a magic marker and a sharp knife and holloween is still, and will always be, special in our house.
    Thank you Nick, you live on.

  4. Beth

    When I moved here in 87 my oldest child’s class was going to the pumpkin farm and need parent volunteers to go. Since that year I have gone many many times with two more children of my own and then with the scout troops that I had. To see the joy on the childrens faces as they ran down the many rows to find the perfect pumkin always brought a tear of joy to me. Today someone gave me a article from the Gazzete about the life of Nick. It brought another tear to my eyes. I now have three small grandchildren and know that they will never get to meet Nick The pumpkin man. There will never be another Nick.
    I will always remember what you have done for this Town and what you brought to me as a parent. You gave of yourself and taught me to give of myself.
    You are greatly missed.
    Thank you for being The Great Pumkin Man

  5. Debora Daniel

    My Dearest Great Uncle Nick,
    I will never forget the time spent with you and Aunt Bambi at the ranch. You told many a joke and laughed your head off. You cracked me up ! And I will never forget how you gave corn and pumkins away freely. You are a a true example of human generosity. Through you I have learned more about real love for your neighbors. And Aunt Bambi, you are a great woman who stood by his side. Thanks for the book you wrote which I truly enjoyed reading, “Give Me Your Hand”. I can’t believe you drove that car !!! You go girl !!
    All my Love ,
    Your Great Niece, Debora
    (MaryKay’s daughter in Fl.)

  6. ed janz(venetucci)

    I am a Venetucci from Chicago. I first visited the ranch with my parents, Adelaide,(nee:Venetucci) and Ed Janz with my brother Ray in 1967. tony was still living on bon foy in Colo Spgs and he and Florence took us out to the ranch to see nick, bambi and joe. I’ll never forget that visit. Nick and Bambi made dinner for us and we spent every day visiting with the family. Nick was the kindest man I had ever met as a child, opening their home to and spending time playing with us and the fields. My last visit to the ranch was in 1997 when my wife and my daughter Sara stopped in and had dinner with Nick and
    Bambi. The first thing I saw as I pulled up to the ranch, was Nick in the north field irrigating. At his age this was about the 62 farming season that he and Tony(of late) continued to work the fields. MY daughter Sara
    sat on Nicks lap on the tractor and I felt the regeneration of the Venetuccis in this way; new life touching the history of our family. His contributions to life, society and conservation will never be equalled and he and all the brothers, Tony, Joe and Rocco are greatly missed.
    To Bambi, stay well and God be with you. The Family of Edward and Raymond (Venetucci)Janz.
    The related Venetuccis,
    In chicago: The late:

  7. Nick Bono, Sr

    I am a resident of KC, MO. While watching a TV program, I was intrigued by the story that was describing a very generous person from Colorado Springs who invited schoolchildren to his farm to select free pumpkins.
    The individual featured in this program related his life-long experience of being a bachelor, and then marrying a lady that he had dated for 30 years very late in his life.
    Having stayed at the Broadmoor Hotel many times, I was intrigued by an anecdote the program related concerning an agreement reached between this gentleman and the famous hotel. According to the program, years ago the Broadmoor was running out of water. The subject of the program had a farm nearby the hotel with an abudance of water. This gentleman and the hotel worked out an agreement whereby a pipeline would be built between this gentleman’s farm and the hotel. The pipeline served to protact the hotel from running out of water and possibly saving the Broadmoor from financial collapse.
    Being further intrigued, on my next visit to the Broadmoor (in 1998), I asked the concierge about this mystery man. The concierge was very aware of whom I was speaking. He provide me with Mr. Venetucci’s name and the location of the famous farm. The same day, I visited the farm with my wife, where we had the pleasure of meeting he and his wife Bambi. We would visit the Venetucci’s whenever we made one of our frquent trips to the area.
    Earlier today (August 2005) we visited the farm again, and were dismayed to find out Mr. Venetucci had passed away some months earlier.
    Though my acquaintence with Dominic was very brief (and being a stranger from the East), I was impressed with how gracious he truly was, and it is my regret that our paths did not cross earlier in my life.
    Godspeed Dominic, your friend from KC, MO.
    Nick Bono, Sr.

  8. Tanya Williams

    I have been a first grade teacher in the Co. Spgs. area for almost 25 years. I can’t remember what year I made my first trip to the Venetucci pumpkin farm with my class of first graders, but I do remember many trips after that. Since there were so many children who wanted to go each year, they had to begin limiting the class field trips to preschool, kindergarten and first graders. For my students it was most likely their last opportunity to visit the great pumpkin patch, but I was able to continue the yearly trip over and over again. One year I returned with so many of those stickers in my hair(I think they were called cockleburrs) from leaning over in the fields to help the students pick their pumpkins. They were so difficult to remove I had to end up cutting them out of my hair. I remember the days when the students would feed the pigs corn from the fields. Somewhere along the way I purchased a tape recorded story with a coloring page called “Mr. Vanatoli and the Magic Pumpkin Seeds” and now my students listen to the story and color the picture even though they haven’t had the experience of visiting the farm. I’m so glad all three of my own children had that wonderful experience and regret that my grandchildren will not. Thank you Mr. Venetucci for being there each year when all those school buses of children drove up and saw your smiling face and you waving to them. I had my picture taken with you in 2002 and as I retire from teaching this year my numerous trips to visit your farm will stand out in my memories.

  9. Rose Etta Menger (Venetucci)

    My Dad is Justin Venetucci Jr., New York 1931. We heard about Nick from friends who used to live in Colorado and get Pumpkins.Sorry I never met Him, He must have been a wonderful man! I hope to meet the surviving family! Best Wishes Rose Etta Menger (Venetucci)

  10. John Busse

    I remember just driving down 85-87 and seeing Nick on the tractor, just a workin’ away. I remember seeing him going through the fields and wearing that old wide brimmed hat, there was no mistaking him. I met him a couple times.He was always smiling & nice to me and anyone I brought with me.

  11. janet parker

    im not sure but i think nick was my step fathers brother ralph venetucci born in interesting if he was then he had a nephew johnny and vinny and a neice and 4 other step neices and nephew j

  12. Meg

    I first met Mr. Venetucci on my first field trip in kindergarter. In high school our outdoor/environment club helped with some farm work when Mr. Venetucci was under the weather. During college I worked in the drug store across from the farm. Mr. Venetucci always donated hay bales and corn stalks for our Halloween picture taking promotion (as he did for Widefield’s Homecoming). My manager had to cleverly maneuver around Mr. Venetucci to make sure he never paid for his picture processing. Mr. Venetucci would never dream of not paying and my manager would never dream of taking the man’s money. Rarely will we ever meet with a more generous soul again.-Meg

  13. javon

    I am 21 years old but i remember ever year when i was in grade school at john adams ever year we would go on a field trip to Mr venetucci’s farm to choose a pumpkin no matter who u were u would find the perfect one i feel he showed race dosent matter because he gave to ever race and back ground

  14. nicole robles

    I remember mr. Venetucci like it was yesterday.
    I’m now 27 and in san diego, ca. But its crazy
    How just ONE person can have such a lasting
    Impression. He was one of the kindest and most
    Generous people I ever knew. Its truly breaks
    My heart that my own 2 children will never get
    To meet such an amazing man. But hey all
    Those souls in heaven are sooo sooo lucky.
    They get to be with a truly awesome spirit.
    God bless mr. Venetucci.

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