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At IceFest, eating contest heats up

February 04, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - It didn't take long for Mike Carr to make a name for himself after he moved from Ohio to Chambersburg last August.

Carr, 28, bested six other contestants Saturday afternoon to win the hot pepper-eating contest during this weekend's Chambersburg IceFest.

"I just ate as many as I could as fast as I could," said Carr, who had sweat pouring off his face from the natural spices that he had just ingested. "I needed the money."

He won $25 for taking first place - actually $24 if you subtract the $1 entry fee.

Carr said he will return next year to defend his crown. But until then, he plans to continue growing jalapeno peppers and canning them, he said.

Each contestant was given two minutes and a bottle of water to wash down as many hot peppers as possible.

Carr downed eight.

Bat Walker, 11, of Hagerstown, said he regretted joining the contest once it was over.

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"I need water ... I need it now," he said as time ran out.

His mother, Cindy Walker, said Bat signed up online to join the contest.

"He wanted to do it," she said. "Now he's in pain."

About 125 people escaped Saturday's cold weather to watch the contest inside the Central Presbyterian Church gymnasium, where earlier, amateurs and professionals competed in the festival's annual chili cook-off.

Stephen Caldwell, chief chili master, said the Family Traditions Lighthouse Restaurant repeated as champion in the professional category. The top prize was $200 and a trophy.

The Franklin County Therapeutic Riding Center won $200 for winning the amateur division, he said.

The scene was much different outside the church.

People were bundled up wearing earmuffs, scarves, fur coats and just about anything else to ward off winter temperatures that hovered around 29 degrees.

The frigid temperature provided the perfect environment for the ice sculptures that lined the downtown sidewalks. Most of the sculptures resembled wildlife, ranging from otters to sea horses.

Tito Ortiz, owner of Tito's Tacos on the square, said IceFest always is good for business.

"It brings people here," he said. "We get a lot of new customers."

The street vendors also enjoyed a good day Saturday, although Brenda Neiley, an employee of Allysa's Chuck Wagon, said her booth was particularly busy Friday night.

Allysa's Chuck Wagon sells french fries and hot dogs, among other things.

Neiley said the booth used 250 pounds of potatoes in three hours Friday night to satisfy an unusually large number of customers.

"I think people stopped on their way home from work," she said. "I think people venture out more during the evening."

The festival began Thursday and ends this afternoon.




If you go



What: IceFest

When: Today

Where: Downtown Chambersburg, Pa.

For information, go to www.icefestpa.com.

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