MATTAWA — The point of the contest was to see who could suck on a lollipop the longest.
If that doesn’t sound like a big deal, well, the lollipop was made with cinnamon oil and scorpion pepper powder. And then formed into the shape of heart, just to taunt the contestants.
Five brave souls took the challenge, one of several contests held at Hund Memorial Park on Saturday during Mattawa Community Days, but eventually it came down to Eric Perez and Brisa Sanchez. And Perez, standing cool in his Seahawks jersey and mirrored sunglasses, eventually prevailed.
“It’s just a little hot,” he said, still sucking on the lollipop long after the contest ended. “Just a little hot.”
Sanchez, between swigs of cold milk, was having none of it. She may have given Perez a run for his money, but now that the contest was done, she wasn’t going to play cool.
“It was very hot,” she said. “My lips are numb, the back of my throat is pounding. It’s hot! It’s hot! I’m crying!”
It was all part of the annual celebration held by this little farming town of 4,500 on the south end of Grant County, and it featured not only the hot sucker contest, but a belly buster burrito eating contest (who could eat the giant burrito the fastest), free breakfast, a 5k run, competitions for best tacos and best salsa in Mattawa, raffles, and a parade.
“I’m 26, and this has been running since before I was born,” said Mattawa Chamber of Commerce President Krystal Schmidt. “So we’ve been going a while.”
The parade featured Wahluke High School cheerleaders, Miss Moses Lake Roundup Shelby Eckenberg and a dozen floats, including a four-wheeler from Think Tank Sanitation pulling a number of bright green porta-potties down Government Road. And there was Ephrata resident and Civil War reenactor Ken Nash, who has ridden his horse in an 1872 U.S. Cavalry uniform in eight parades so far this year.
“This is the way it was back then,” Nash said, showing off his light blue trousers and dark blue vest. “Everything is 100 percent wool.”
“I love history and I love to share this history with others, so this is one way of doing it,” he added. “I have a Civil War uniform, and I’ve just acquired a World War I uniform.”
Nash said he will ride in five or six more parades this year, including the Veterans Day parade where he will lead a riderless horse to honor the fallen dead.
Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org