Story by Lisa Perkins
TRAVERSE CITY —
It’s all in the technique.
“Don’t worry about eating nicely; face down in the pie is the only way to eat it,” said Lani Bathje, event director for the National Cherry Festival’s kid’s pie eating contest held Monday at F&M Park.
Hundreds of youngsters took her advice and gulped down the gooey pastry, hands held firmly behind their backs.
First-time contestant Elliot Geisert, of Traverse City, said his camp counselor gave him a tip to quickly clean his plate.
“I’m just going to rub it all on my face,” he said.
Elliot spent the day before his 12th birthday amid festival events while with a Salvation Army day-camp group.
Fellow camper Zoe Sanford is an experienced participant. Zoe, 9, knows getting pie on her face is part of the fun.
“It is really, really messy. I like going on the rides better,” she said.
Kelly Gunther, a festival princess from Central Grade School, admitted wolfing down cherry pie wasn’t her favorite way to spend the afternoon.
“I got a cherry up my nose and that wasn’t much fun,” she said.
Marty Lomasney of Traverse City gave his daughters, Adelaide and Lily, a piece of advice that would keep them clean and his stomach full.
“Don’t eat the pie, just pick it up and bring it right to me,” he said.
Assistant event director Rose Bohrer said the real key to winning a blue ribbon is starting with the crust end and eating toward the point.
“Get rid of the dry part first. That’s the best way to do it,” she said.