While there was plenty to see and do at the 43rd annual Patterson Apricot Fiesta, nothing allowed folks to get up close and personal with the town’s famous orange-colored fruit like the pie-eating competition on Sunday, June 2.
“We feel the contest ties right into the fiesta’s entertainment,” said Carol Bogdanich, who sells local fresh and dried apricots and jam from her family’s Apricot Fiesta booth. “It’s a fun event to watch. The contestants really seem to enjoy it, and we look forward to hosting it each year.”
Alek Read of Patterson didn’t so much eat as inhale his apricot pie during the fruit-filled spectacle in front of the fiesta’s main stage, consuming enough of it to place first in the competition for the third straight year.
Cheeks coated with pie filling, Read, 14, won the contest by devouring the apricot innards in less than two minutes.
“It’s not too difficult to eat like this when you’re this tall,” said Read, who stands 6-foot-1. “I eat more than everyone in my family. This is nothing new for me.”
Read is known as a fast eater, and he didn’t exactly prepare for the competition the way some contestants might. Rather than leave extra room in his stomach by skipping a meal, he ate breakfast Sunday as he would any other day.
“I looked over at everyone else, to see if I was in the lead,” Read said. “I noticed that I was way ahead of everyone, so I paced myself.”
When he’s not turning apricot pies — and the competition — to mush, Read enjoys chowing down at In-N-Out Burger, where he can polish off the restaurant’s 4x4 hamburger — four beef patties, lettuce, tomato, four slices of cheese, pickles, extra spread and grilled onions stacked on a bun — in one sitting.
On Sunday, amid the cheers of their family and friends, six competitors put their hands behind their backs and put their mouths to work on the apricot pies before them.
As the contest started, fiesta-goers crowded around the table to take photos and encourage the participants.
Some of the youngsters pecked at the pie, while others dove in, obliterating the poor pastries.
Read emerged victorious, with little evidence of the pie left behind — except what remained clinging to his face.
“My family lives here, so I plan on returning to the contest next year, too,” Read said.
Patterson’s Antonio Dixon, 13, chomped his way to a second-place finish, with Charlie Cassidy of Patterson, 12, finishing third.
Before the contest, the ballet folklorico group known as Los Luceros de Osborn provided entertainment, dancing in front of the stage to a variety of Mexican folk songs from the states of Sinaloa and Nuevo Leon. Performers were from the Dual Immersion Academy in Turlock, which includes students ranging in age from three to 14.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or email@example.com.