I must say, Stand By Me has been the highlight of the tour so far. In the history of the Rolling Roadshow, never before had we teamed up with such an enthusiastic, like-minded bunch as the Stand By Me committee of Brownsville.
We rolled into Brownsville the night before the show, and the excitement was palpable. There's only 1400 presidents of Brownsville, and every last citizen seemed to be involved in some way. Normally, we roll into a town and we're lucky if the local hipsters have caught wind of the event. The Brownsville posse seemed to have every man, woman and child within a 30 mile radius not just informed, but actively engaged in the event. Every storefront was decked out with Stand Be Me memorabilia and window displays, there were markers for photo-ops to recreate specific scenes from the film and signs posted for the various special events planned for the following day.
The rest of the crew sat down for a meal at the one restaurant on the main street in Brownsville, but at that point, I had been fasting for 24 hours in preparation for the IFOCE sanctioned world Blueberry Pie eating contest (more on that later) and ate just a side salad.
We set up our rig in the park and made it back to the Brownsville Saloon for our ritual post-set-up round or two of cocktails before calling it a night (my fasting technique allows for unlimited liquids).
The next day was a whirlwind: scavenger hunts, sock hops, hot wheel races, cast and crew reunions, classic car cruise-ins, and then the double feature of main events. First, at 6:00 PM, the IFOCE-sanctioned World Blueberry Pie Eating competition. This is the first (and maybe the last) hands-free event in the history of the federation. The field was comprised of 14 professional eaters, featuring some very strong regional professionals as well as veterans Crazy Legs Conti and Pat Bartoletti (#3 eater in the world, a dessert specialist and the odds-on favorite to take the event). In addition to these athletes, I also decided to enter my first professional contest. Borrowing a singlet from Alamo programmer Zack Carlson (formerly used in his victorious hamburger battle against an actual hog), some spray paint from the Brownsville Hardware Store and a completely inappropriate haircut for a 37 year-old man, the Glory Chomper was born. Every IFOCE eating competition begins with the crowd standing for the Star Spangled Banner. As there was no other flag, my pasty torso and skin-tight star-spangled singlet served as the American flag for the crowd of nearly 700 spectators. Every man, woman, child and competitive eater saluted my crotch for the duration of the anthem. This may have been the single greatest moment of my life.
I was totally psyched and ready: I had followed the "Joey Chestnut-approved" fasting method, I had my beverages ready and my swimming goggles on to protect against pie-splatter. What I wasn't prepared for was just how damn sweet blueberry pie is. I held my own for the first pie, the first "slice" was delicious, the second, very tasty, but as I licked the first tin clean, I had eaten all the pie I wanted to eat, and there was 6.5 minutes left in the 8 minute contest. Bartoetti was nearly finishing his second pie when I finished my first and my pace was slowing fast. Clearly, I am not a competitor in the professional eating arena and I am certainly not a dessert specialist. In the middle of the second pie, I was laboring. I was not full in the least but was 100% sick and tired of blueberries. The pros would only stop for liquids after finishing a complete pie. I needed to take the equivalent of a smoke break every 3-4 bites to drink enough skim milk to wash the taste of pie from my system. I finished the contest with 2.5 pies down my throat, about 3 pounds of pie consumed.
Pat Bartoletti took home the gold with a staggering 9.2 pounds of pie in 8 minutes, this after stopping earlier that day at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland for a morning pastry binge. I think I will stick to the savory arena for my next eating challenge.
Following the eating contest, we all headed over to the screening location for the movie and watched Stand By Me and then back to the Brownsville Saloon for the Dewar's after-party. Sometimes the show days are so stressful and intense that the crew can only enjoy them after the fact, but this one I savored from beginning to end. Thanks to everyone who came out and especially thanks to Brownsville for partnering with us on the event. I cannot imagine another show on this tour being better than Stand By Me.
Photos from Stand By Me