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Berkeley Co. Youth Fair ice cream contest brings pain and prizes

August 06, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- "It's easy. Just swallow."

Chad Starner's advice for winning the ice cream eating contest title at the Berkeley County Youth Fair seems simple enough.

Avoiding the physical discomfort that comes with gulping a pint of vanilla ice cream is another test altogether.

"The last bite didn't go down very well," the 17-year-old Hedgesville teen said moments after beating more than a dozen other contestants in the senior division of the annual contest.

While some scooped the ice cream from Styrofoam bowls with their fingers or actually used a plastic spoon provided, Starner peeled away the insulation and held the frozen treat with both hands and ate it like an apple in large bites as a small cheering section urged some to "shove it in there."

Finishing second and third were Joseph Collis and William Randolph. The top three finishers received a cash prize in junior (age 14 and younger) and senior (age 15 to 21) divisions. All contestants had to be fair exhibitors.

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Starner said he won the ice cream contest four or five times before, including last year. Last year, he also won the senior division watermelon eating contest and placed second in the donut eating contest in last year, according to Youth Fair Association's Web site. The donut and watermelon contests are scheduled for today and Thursday, respectively.

"I'll keep coming back as long as (I'm eligible)," Starner said.

Megan Behrmann, 14, of Martinsburg, won this year's junior division contest after downing a half-pint of ice cream faster than more than 30 other contestants.

"My mouth is actually going numb," said Behrmann, after removing the ice cream donated by Rock Hill Creamery that coated her fingers and face -- from beneath her nose to her chin.

Though she said had entered the contest every year, Behrmann said she actually tried to win this time because it was her last year of eligibility in the junior division.

Finishing third behind Behrmann and Chester McDonald in the junior division was John Michaels, 11, of Hedgesville.

"My teeth are hurting," said Michaels, who used his hands and chewed the ice cream.

When asked what advice he had for future contestants, Michaels said they should just have fun.

"Don't get super competitive," Michaels said.

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