There was big drama at the annual Peaks Fest Pie Eating Contest this year. Lots of crying, whining and pouting. Politics and bureaucracy, it seems, extend even to the world of kids’ pie eating.
“It’s not fair,” said five-year old N.
N, who is five, had been looking forward to being in the pie eating contest with her big sister for the first time. But when she took her place at the table, F, who was in charge this year, turned her away.
“Only kids who have graduated from kindergarten can participate,” said F.
N plopped into a folding chair, pulled her knees up to her chin, and lowered her over-sized yellow sun glasses over her eyes. Her fingers clutched the giant plastic daisies on the tops of her pink sandals.
I looked down the table at the sixteen six-to-ten year old kids, a mixture of residents and visitors, preparing to participate. They sat at attention, arms in their laps, heads sticking through the tops of body-sized clear plastic bags. I couldn’t understand why younger kids couldn’t be included.
“Why can’t the little kids play?” I asked F .
“Because it’s too messy.,” said F.
“Shouldn’t that be the parents’ decision?”
“I’m jut following the rules that were left for me,” said F, waving two sheets of typed notes.
For the past decade, the pie eating contest had been run by Pie Boss. Although he had business that called him out of town this year, he’d left F detailed instructions outlining exactly how the pie eating contest should be run.
A lot of information considering the self-explanatory nature of challenging kids to sloth down a pan-full of pudding and whipped cream with no hands.
F gave the signal and the first group dove face first into their pies. Since they couldn’t use their hands, the kids improvised: they licked and slurped and gulped and submerged like little deep sea pudding divers.
After several minutes Quinn was declared the winner. She grinned ear to ear, crinkling her pudding-covered nose and whipping her pudding-covered hair.
“How could it be any messier than that?” I asked.
“I’m just doing what I was told,” said F.
F got the next group of older kids organized, then gave them the signal to start. He walked up and down the table, watching to declare a winner. But every so often, he glanced over at N, who hadn’t yet emerged from her fetus ball of disappointment.
Patti won the older group for the third consecutive year. Everyone cheered.
F glanced at little N and mumbled. I could tell his role of surrogate bad guy was eating at him.
“Attention, attention,” he announced. “We’re going to have an extra round for everyone who was too young to be in the first round.”
Big smiles erupted on the faces of half a dozen little ones. N gleefully donned her plastic bag.
“If you aren’t here, you don’t get to make the rules,” said F. Then he turned to the cuties at the table. “Ready, get set, go…”
The big question now is: What happens next year when Pie Boss returns? Will the new rule stand, or will injustice and age discrimination once again mar the face of competitive pie eating on Peaks Island?