Eating, spitting, chunking, carving pumpkins at annual Pumpkin Palooza

Oct. 27, 2011 at 5:27 a.m.
Updated Oct. 28, 2011 at 5:28 a.m.

Iesha LaMark, a UHV student, cleans out a pumpkin during the pumpkin carving contest at Pumpkin Palooza with Kathryn Green on Thursday.

Iesha LaMark, a UHV student, cleans out a pumpkin during the pumpkin carving contest at Pumpkin Palooza with Kathryn Green on Thursday.

Her elbows on the table and fingers in her food, Courtney Wenger broke another one of mom's rules: She spoke with her mouth full.

"Ya'll are babies," she sloshed out.

Whipped cream smeared on her face, the 19-year-old University of Houston-Victoria sophomore was talking some healthy smack to her schoolmates - in between heaping bites of pumpkin pie.

Two of the more weary pumpkin eaters had already dropped out of the pumpkin pie eating contest at UHV's Pyramid Row Thursday afternoon. Wenger mashed her pie together, dug her fingers in and scooped bite after bite into her mouth.

"Ya'll just better quit right now," Wenger said, with a sly smile and cheeks puffed out by pumpkin.

The pie-eating contest was the main event at UHV's second annual Pumpkin Palooza, which drew a crowd of a few dozen students for an afternoon of fall fun.

A laughing crowd closed in on the pie-eating competitors until their faces showed signs of sickness. Then, a step back and more laughter.

The silly competitions, heckling and cheering encourage something Juan Diego Martinez, of UHV's student services department, said the university is making a priority.

"When students come to UHV, and when they leave, what are the things we want them to take?" Martinez said. Besides a quality education, "We also want to be able to give them skills they can leave with - not only academic, but social as well," he said.

Minutes before the pumpkin pie mess, Amanda Harrod, a UHV freshman, was trying out yet another ill-advised activity: spitting in the wind.

Her arm wrapped around her belly, Harrod arched back and spit a pumpkin seed well past the competitors that came before her.

A good 30 feet away, the seed bounced, and the crowd cheered.

Martinez, who attended UHV before it welcomed its freshman class last year, said the campus has been brought to life by the students now calling it home.

"New students participate at different events. It's good to build relationships with them and see them having fun," he said.

Harrod took part in every activity available at the Pumpkin Palooza - including pumpkin carving and pumpkin chunking - which tests how far students can toss a pumpkin.

Despite her spitting success, Harrod fell behind Wenger when it came time to stuff down the food.

Several minutes into the competition, though, Wenger's confidence finally started to show signs of distress.

"You still have your crust," a competitor joked.

"You still have your pie," Wenger teased back.

The two went head-to-head during the last minute - somehow stuffing more into their already-full mouths - while the crowd roared.

Wenger came out the winner and, after wiping her face and washing her hands, she let on about what helped her victory.

"I really like pumpkin pie," she said. "Of course, not right now."



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