By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
By its nature, a pie-eating contest isn’t clean.
After all, contestants are planting their faces into a pie and eating as much as possible in a short time. Displaying manners and staying clean are low priorities.
But the pie-eating contest at RIVERfair at Keizer Rapids Park on Aug. 9 kicked things up a level.
Specifically, two people did: Lt. Andrew Copeland with the Keizer Police Department and Anne-Marie Storms, the public education specialist with the Keizer Fire District.
Per usual, there were multiple categories for the contest: boys 13 and under, girls 13 and under (featuring mini pies), plus women 14+ and men 14+, featuring full-size pies from Shari’s.
In between was the KPD vs. KFD vs. Keizer CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) battle royale. Two people from each group competed, sitting across from each other.
Before the event got going, Copeland and Storms engaged in a lively but fun-spirited battle of words. The real fun began, however, when Storms realized any part of her pie she put in front of Copeland would be his responsibility to consume.
Storms did that shortly after the contest started, using her mouth to scoop out a portion of her pie and depositing it on the table in front of Copeland.
Copeland responded by flinging a portion of pie at Storms. A lovely streak of marionberry pie thus highlighted Storms’ blond hair. Much of the pie decorated the ground behind her. Still more landed on CERT member Jerry Wade, seated on the other side of Storms. Wade had pie down his back – and lower.
Because she had placed much of her pie in front of Copeland, Storms was declared the winner, though later the outcome was changed and Wade was named the winner.
“Officer Copeland and I have a great working relationship,” Storms said. “We challenged each other to the pie-eating contest. The best way is teamwork. My version of teamwork was I gave him my portion of the pie to eat. Somehow it ended up back on me.”
Storms had a hunch things might not be clean.
“That’s why I went with the trash bag,” she said, after shaking hands with Copeland and attempting to rub some of her pie-streaked hair on his uniform. “A pie-eating contest is not something I’m usually into, but it’s for a great cause and it shows the great relationship between police, fire and CERT. I was there for the team.”
For Storms she had to devise an impromptu strategy once she saw half a pie placed in front of her.
“That’s a lot of pie,” she said. “So I thought, since I have to eat what’s in front of me, that means someone else can eat what’s in front of them, including my portion of the pie. So I went with that route. They didn’t say it was cheating, so I thought I would give it a shot.”
Emerson Woomer, 11, won the girl’s contest while 8-year-old Kaleb Bridger won the boy’s competition. Amanda Rumsey won a sibling rivalry to claim top honors in the women’s category, while Jim Christopher only had one competitor to beat in the men’s contest.
Woomer hadn’t done such a contest before and noted it was “just a little thing.”
“I ate around the crust first, then some of the inside, then I dumped it out because I couldn’t get my face in to get straight to the bottom,” she said. “So it’s easier if you just dump it on the table.”
Bridger had a similar strategy.
“I just decided to use my teeth to knock it out and to push it to the side,” said Bridger, who acknowledged he was afraid of puking.
Rumsey didn’t have much of a strategy while eating her rhubarb pie.
“I was sticking my face in the pie and trying to get as much as I can while beating my sister,” she said. “I was eating a little slow, but when Sheri started saying Melissa was beating me, I ate faster. I can be a little competitive and I like pie.”
Christopher had a whole plan ready.
“My strategy was to make sure the crust was gone off the top, then try to consume as much as I could,” said Christopher, who noted his daughter was going to compete in her event but wasn’t there in time. “Slow and steady was the best way to do it.”
What other kind of eating contest would Christopher want to try?
“I would try a hamburger one,” he said. “I love hamburgers. I was disappointed (there weren’t more competitors), but I think it would have been the same outcome. The strategy was smart.”