What goes great with a boiling thermometer and a grooving blues stage?
Jessie McNevin will be “smelling blackberries for a week,” she said, having devoured a plump pie quicker than either of her pie-eating competitors in the spotlight event of the inaugural Blues, Berries & BBQ Festival on Saturday at Harbison State Forest.
Bob Kuhns’ face, from his forehead past his chin, dripped with sweet magenta juice as he lifted his head from a demolished blackberry pie. The pie-eating champion in his age category, Kuhns didn’t really taste the pie, he said. “It just sort of went straight down.”
A faceful of berries might not be what you’d call a conventional cooling-off method, but it must be one of the tastiest, judging by the eagerness of 7-year-olds Naomi Gibert and Harley Woolever. The pair of foes anxiously side-eyed one another as they chomped through pies bigger than their own faces.
“I’m confident, nervous and excited,” Harley said before taking on the challenge. She had come prepared with an extra shirt. It wasn’t her first eating competition – she once made a valiant effort in a watermelon contest, too.
Naomi’s 4-year-old sister, Norah, also had hoped to compete, feeling confident she could eat a whole pie. But, being too young to register, she stood by with her grandparents and cheered on her big sister.
Harley and Naomi’s heads bobbed above their pies in a tight race, both coming up for air with berries and juices dribbling down their chins, hands clasped behind their backs.
The judges declared it a tie.
Harley wiped her stained face clean, her face paint smearing off with the berries.
She felt good, she said – good enough to eat another pie.
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.