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Suns, Almanack join to keep woolly bear contest going

October 03, 2012
  • Winners of previous woolly bear contests are shown. At top is the cutist and cuddliest winner, and below is the winner in the biggest and woolliest category.
File photos

The Hagerstown Suns have agreed to partner with the Hagers-Town Town and Country Almanack to keep the almanac’s annual woolly bear caterpillar contest from being discontinued.

The Suns said in a news release Wednesday that the team will host the woolly bear headquarters and the designated spot for judging of the caterpillars.

Almanac officials announced in late September that it was discontinuing the woolly bear contest run by the publication each October for about 30 years.

“When we heard that the contest was going to no longer exist it obviously struck a chord with our entire organization,” said Suns General Manager Bill Farley. “Our mascot, Woolie B, is based off of the woolly bear caterpillars and we felt it was our duty to see the contest continue.”

The contest will begin immediately and run until Friday, Nov. 2, the Suns said.

Contestants are asked to take their entries to the Suns’ front office at Municipal Stadium, the release says.

Gerald W. Spessard, the publication’s business and sales manager and a former judge of the Woolly Bear Contest, has agreed to help the Suns with the judging duties — including deciding which caterpillar is biggest and woolliest (the largest) and which is the smallest and cuddliest (the smallest), a release from the Suns says.

There will be a contest winner for each category and each winner will receive $100 from the Hagerstown Almanack and a gift from the Suns organization.

“With the help of the Hagerstown Almanack, we hope to revive this program within the local schools as it is a fun and educational process for the kids in our community,” Farley said.

There are some who suggest the width of the caterpillars’ bands could predict the severity of the coming winter.

In announcing the end of the contest, Spessard said in September that participation dropped off drastically after Washington County Public Schools stopped including the contest in its curriculum several years ago.

The contest was suspended in 2006 because of low participation. At the time, Spessard said the number of entries had dropped from around 800 to about 20, leading to the cancellation.

Spessard said public outcry over the end of the contest that year resulted in its return in 2007, when there were 76 entries.

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