Poem-spitting, anyone?

Me: “I haven’t had much use for the Arts Fest ever since they cancelled the poetry reading and the Old-Time Fiddlers’ Competition.”

Dad: “It’s like when the Great Insect Fair did away with the cricket-spitting contest.”

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7 Comments


  1. I agree with your title – the two canceled events could combine into their own festival. Poem-spitting and cricket-reading, followed by the Old Time Fiddler’s Slam in the Insecticide Tent.

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    1. Yeah! I was trying to imagine what an old-time poem spitting competition might involve: maybe the indigestible bits of Tennyson or Pope shaped into aerodynamic wads of foolscap?

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  2. Oh, no! How could they cancel fiddlers?!

    Or…crickets…

    Or….spitting.

    Truth is, I do love all three.

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    1. I think the wild-eyed sort of people who start festivals are likely very different from the people who keep festivals going, who probably tend to be more conservative, more beholden to sponsors, etc.

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  3. Were the crickets alive when spat? Presumably the object was greatest distance from spitter… If alive and jumping (the insects) were contestants allowed to bring their own, specially trained, crickets? Sounds like fun! Why on earth was it dropped?

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    1. They were alive. I think they were chilled and thus mostly immobile, but I’m not sure — I’ll have to ask my parents. I just dug up a description from Mom’s 1999 column from the Pennsylvania Game News (not online):

      I missed the Guinness Book of World Records’ champion cricket-spitter, Dan Capps, who broke his own record of 32 feet for spitting a live cricket out of his mouth. At the Great Insect Fair he launched a cricket headfirst in a tight spiral, propelling it an astounding 38 feet, 1.5 inches to the cheers of an enthusiastic audience.

      Spitting a live cricket out of your mouth may not sound like an activity many people would want to engage in, but kids lined up for the privilege. While I watched a pre-adolescent girl named Teresa broke the young female record by spitting a cricket 18 feet, 2 inches. To my surprise, females, who have always been typed as the sex with the most fear and loathing toward insects, seemed to be more eager than males to engage in cricket-spitting.

      I have no idea why it was dropped.

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  4. Totally some of awe. I learn something new every day here. They still seem to do it at Purdue.

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