Apple pie eating contest returning

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If you like down-home fun, replete with cheering crowds, plan on taking in the apple pie eating contest during the North Central Chamber of Commerce’s 27th annual Apple Festival.

Sunday afternoon beginning at 2 p.m., people in three different age groups will battle it out for the best apple pie eater around.

Like any contest – even the record-setting Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest that’s held in New York every Fourth of July – Sunday’s event will have rules that will make the competition difficult for participants and nothing less than belly-busting fun for folks in the large crowd that turns out.

For starters, you’d better like apple pie.

In keeping with tradition, the presenting North Central Chamber of Commerce has signed on with Pastryland Bakery of Smithfield to supply each and every pie for those would-be champion eaters.

“They’ll also be supplying the pies we sell at our food stand,” Deborah Ramos, the Chamber’s executive director, explained. “We purchase the pies from them for the competition, too, but use three different sizes.

Take, for example, the pie eating contest for youngsters ages 12 and under. Those kids will have just 60 seconds to eat their pie.

Thus, once they’re seated at the long table set up on the main stage inside Johnston War Memorial Park, all entrants will receive a plastic bib, a cup of water and will be informed of the rules.

Sunday’s contest, which is again being sponsored by the award-wining Cherry Hill Manor of Johnston, has two other age categories – one for kids ages 13 to 18, and an adult division for men and women over age 18.

Those girls and boys who enter the age 13 to 18 division will take the same position at the table and they have to eat a medium-size pie – also without using their hands – as quickly as possible in order to win. The same holds true in the category for people ages 18 and up, although people in that group must eat a large apple pie.

Sunday’s contest could also produce yet another record for Damon Bedford, who has a three-peat championship under his belt.

Bedford, you see, won the first of his three titles in the 12 and under division back in 2010. He won again in 2011, but rain washed out the 2012 competition. He made it three straight last year.

Sunday, Bedford will compete in the division for kids ages 13 to 18.

“Each of the three divisions always provides plenty of color and fun,” Ramos noted. “Who gets bragging rights is only half the story. It’s good old-fashioned fun at an event that brings people together from all parts of the state and even nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut.”

Moreover, if you don’t like apple pie – or the countless creations of other food vendors who’ll set up shop Saturday and Sunday in Johnston War Memorial Park, visit the NCCC’s food booth; volunteers will be cooking things like sausage and pepper sandwiches that are always a huge hit with festival-goers.

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