Young and old take a bite out of Third of July celebration

 - Courtesy photo
— image credit: Courtesy photo

POULSBO — There was only one delay before Poulsbo’s annual Third of July watermelon eating and seed-spitting contest: someone forgot to bring the watermelons.

Needless to say, it was quickly addressed.

Soon, numerous victors were crowned as seed-spitting winners and watermelon, ice cream and pizza eating champions ascended their respective thrones, earning certificates of honor and patriotic hats of pride. They blended perfectly with an inflatable castle leading to the trail of white-tented booths scattered along Anderson Parkway.

Two-time men’s seed-spitting champion Kit Wheeler, 47, said he’s been a Third of July veteran for years and always looks forward to the fireworks. Wheeler won the contest with an unbeatable 28-and-a-half-foot launch.

“I work out... and I wear special shoes with springs,” he joked when asked how he prepared for the event, though he did admit that a big breath was key to his impressive distance.

Lynne Bryars, 47, beat out her female seed-spitting competitors, winning for the second year by rocketing her seed 28 feet — almost as far as Wheeler.

“I spit gum, I spit cherries,” she said. “The only thing I don’t spit is spit, so I get a lot of practice.”

Though the adults swept the seed-spitting challenge, there were plenty of younger contestants who ate their way to prizes. Kids ages 5 and older competed within their age divisions, while parents were encouraged to join the adult division. Eight-year-old Ethan Boyd took first place for the ages 8 to 10 in both watermelon and ice cream eating, this being his third year of competition.

“I always win,” he said even before the competition began. After claiming his prizes, he added, “I’m happy, but I just come here for the fun. Not for the winning.”

Boyd’s sister, Emilee Boyd, 12, who also competed, said her keys to success this year were a good attitude and a hair tie.

“Don’t think about if someone’s ahead of you,” she said. “Just think that you can do it.”

Twelve-year-old Becca Lee, who took top prize in the ages 11 to 13 ice cream eating challenge said despite her success, she only wishes she knew how to prevent brain freeze.

“You just stuff your mouth full and swallow,” she said. “And try not to chew.”

While many cheered the champion eaters on, others took in the waterfront view and enjoyed the various vendors. For first-time attendee Kelsie McDougall of Bremerton, the festival made a lasting impression.

“I think it’s really fun,” she said. “It’s a nice place… we’ll probably venture on up to town.”

Sharon LaFrance, also of Bremerton, said she hadn’t attended Third of July for a few years, but looked forward to what the night would hold.

“It hasn’t been dry and sunny for this in a while,” she said. “There’s gonna be a lot of people here tonight.”

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