This weekend marked the 43rd annual Blueberry Arts Festival in Ketchikan. Booths filled the State Building parking garage and Main Street parking lot, spilling onto Main Street and halfway down the hill toward Dock Street.
It was a nice day for the main festival on Saturday, so locals and cruise ship visitors alike crowded the booths, buying locally made, hand-crafted art and food.
And then there are these iconic events: biggest slug; fastest slug; fastest pie-eating.
For the second year in a row, Cindi Davis was in charge of weighing slugs. One of the first brought in was Slugzilla.
“All right, Slugzilla, you ready? Come on, baby,” she said to the large banana slug. “All right. Let’s see what we’ve got on Slugzilla here. Thirty-six grams! Whoo hoo! Slugzilla!”
While big, Slugzilla didn’t make it into the top three. Rocco Meredith’s 45-gram slug, Speed Winner, took the big-slug prize. Second was 44-gram Raspberry, owned by Adelei Jurczak, and third was Caulette Jurczak’s Bleu at 43 grams.
Now on the slug races, emceed by Alex Brown.
Three tables with circles painted on top were placed in the main event area. Racing slugs are put in the centers of each circle, and the first slug to make it to the outer edge wins the first heat.
Those three winners go to the final race.
“On your mark! Get set! Race! Here we go! Here we go! Table one! We are going at a – snail’s pace,” Brown said.
They are slugs, after all.
In about three minutes, though, the first winner crosses the outer edge.
“We’ve got a winner over here! We’ve got a winner! Look at this little guy! What is that little guy’s name? Cooper? Cooper for the win! And what is his owner’s name? Kirya!” Brown announced.
Cooper didn’t win the final heat. That honor went to Mystery Mister and its owner, Jozy Boyd. Cooper and Kirya Zier came in second; and Skippy Joe was third, owned by Ryker Pilcher.
The next less-slimy (but still messy) contest of the day was the pie-eating race. Individual pies were larger than they have been in past years, so big appetites were a must in addition to fast jaws.
The first race was for 8-year-olds and younger.
“On your mark! Get set! Eat! Oh, man! Oh, wow! This girl pulled it out of the pie tin! Oh, man. That was genius,” Brown said.
Colton Kufner won the contest, polishing off his pie in less than two minutes. According to the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council’s list of winners, pie-eating champs in the other age groups were Killian Connolly, Miranda Jorgensen and Gavin Piercy.
Blueberry Arts Festival events kept people busy throughout the weekend. They included a blueberry dish contest; juried art show; Gigglefeet Dance Festival; a fun run; the beard contest; a handmade human-powered boat race; and the annual Richard Brautigan, Dick Whittaker and Lillian Ference Memorial Trout Fishing in America Poetry Slam and Rain Quatrain.
Here is a graphic of the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council’s official list of winners: