For the Hangartners, pie-eating competition is a family affair. Wilhelmina (age 5), Icean (9) and Kellee (12) all took the stage Thursday to enter the annual pie-eating contest held at the Jackson County Fair.
Contestants ranging age from three years old to adult took shifts downing chocolate/whipped cream pies. The winners received free milk shakes and “bragging rights,” said contest organizer and master of ceremonies Leonard Olson.
“Some of them are up there on a dare, and some of them are just willing to give it a whirl,” Olson said.
The Hangartner family of Melrose earned the most bragging rights. Icean and Kellee won their age groups.
For Icean, winning was an accomplishment because he’s not a huge fan of chocolate. He said, “I kind of like chocolate,” but doesn’t care for chocolate chips.
“All I did was start eating the big chunks first,” he said.
Kellee said it wasn’t difficult to consume the cream pie.
“It was really easy because it was all jiggly,” she said.
The contest was more difficult for Monica Lobenstein, Jackson County 4-H youth development agent.
“I was trying to slurp, and then I would laugh, so that didn’t work out very well,” she said.
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There were motivations to compete other than winning. Sarah Tanis said the event allowed her to meet new people.
“I’m the new (Jackson County) 4-H program coordinator, so it was face time,” she said.
The competition wouldn’t have been complete without warmups. Olson led competitors in mouth and tummy stretching exercises before the eating began. Utensils were conspicously absent.
Olson said he got the idea five years ago while watching a video clip of a similar competition in Iowa.
“I just looked at it and thought it was kind of neat,” he said. “We brought it here, and it just took off.”
The pie has always been the chocolate/whipped cream variety prepared on site.
“It’s done with a pan and a scoop,” Olson said. “There’s no baking involved.”
He said this year’s contest drew the most competitors ever.
“It’s hilarious to watch,” Olson said. “It’s good, clean fun.”
Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.