For the first time in the event’s history, a teenage girl has won the blueberry pie-eating contest at the 8th Annual Cloverdale Blueberry Festival.
Caitlin McDonald, 17, easily cleaned her plate during the second of two rounds held Aug. 6, wolfing down an entire 12-inch blueberry pie – hands behind her back – with seeming ease.
When she was done, she inspected the shiny, crumb-free foil plate, then triumphantly held it aloft for the other competitors to see.
When asked how she prepared for the eating contest, she said simply, “I didn’t,” adding she decided to give it a whirl because her younger sister was competing.
McDonald’s victory prevented 2010 champion Cody Materi, 14, from reclaiming the coveted first place title. But the Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary student seemed pleased with his second place finish, rating the competition as “pretty scarce.”
Part of the trick in scarfing back an entire pie, he acknowledged, is drinking lots of water as you go.
Disappointment, along with bright purple smears of blueberry pie filling, was painted on the faces of those who came up short at the competition, particularly one blond boy.
“He was swaying back and forth, so we were running to get the garbage can,” said organizer Carolyn Orazietti.
One person in the crowd wasn’t disappointed, Ken “The Demolisher” Wong, a multiple blueberry pie-eating contest winner who successfully ate his way to a first place finish during the previous round earlier in the day.
Wong, a competitive eater known as a “gurgitator”, has been entering eating contests since 1993. A long-time Cloverdale champ, Wong was unseated by another competitor last year, and he was back to reclaim his title.
He doesn’t specialize in any particular food, and has taken part in eating contests for everything from buffalo wings and hot dogs to spring rolls and cupcakes.
Wong wasn’t sure if he would redeem the gift certificates he received as part of his prize, explaining he lives in North Surrey. “I only come to Cloverdale once a year, just for the contest,” he said.
Contests chowed their way through 40 pies this year, Orazietti said.
A kid who won last year was back in the first heat, she said, “then when he saw Ken (Wong) join him at the table he was daunted.”
It’s not unusual for past contestants to return year after year.
This year, one man even commented on how delicious the pie was.
The annual contest is also an ideal opportunity for parents to gather blackmail material on their kids, she said.
“It’s kind of funny to get a picture of your kid horking back a blueberry pie,” she said, adding as an organizer, she always gets a big kick out of the proceedings. “It’s just good, old-fashioned fun.”
There are certain rules. Contestants can’t use their hands, and “chipmunking” – stowing a huge pile of food in your cheeks, pretending you’re done – isn’t allowed.
Planned or not, vomiting will get you disqualified.