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Watermelon eating contest helps kick off Acadian Festival

MADAWASKA, Maine — People young and old kicked off the Acadian Festival Friday morning with a watermelon eating contest sponsored by Paradis Shop ‘n Save.

Some contestants even came from as far as Waukesha, Wisconsin. Tanner Pickar and his family flew in to visit Tanner’s aunt, but the 9-year-old said he flew in just for the watermelon eating contest.

Tanner Pickar bites off a little more than he can chew as he races to eat as much watermelon as possible Friday morning at the Paradis Shop ‘n Save sponsored 13th Annual Watermelon Eating Contest, held as part of the Acadian Festival in Madawaska. (Morgan Mitchell | SJVT/FhF)

“I really like watermelon,” Pickar said. “Oh, and I’m also visiting my aunt.”

Pickar’s father, Joe, also participated in the adult portion of the watermelon eating contest. He said he decided to do it last minute just because his son did it too.

“[Tanner] was so excited for this,” Joe said. “We flew out a day early, just so he could do the watermelon eating contest.”

While this was Tanner’s first year participating in the contest, he made it very clear that he was no stranger to eating contests.

“I’ve chugged down hot dogs before,” Tanner said. “I’ve had practice.”

While they still had a lot of fun, neither of the Pickars placed among the top three in their competitions.

The contest was done in four rounds starting with children 6-years-old and younger. Other age groups that competed were 7-10, 11-15, and 16 and over. Thirty-six people participated overall with ages ranging from 3 all the way up to “grey-haired” people, according to Shop ‘n Save Produce Manager Don Deschenes.

“Just seeing the kids have fun and bringing people together is why I keep doing it,” Deschenes said. “Last year, we even had people from California.”

The winner for the 11-15-year-old age group was Emma Morin, 14, of Madawaska. She made it through 9 pieces of watermelon, taking first place, despite it only being her first time participating.

“I really like watermelon,” Morin said. After winning first place, she said she was good and tired, but her primary purpose of entering the contest had been completed. “I was trying to beat my brother,” she said. “And I did.”

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