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Rain couldn't stop the fun

Torrential rains on Friday and sticky, humid heat on Saturday couldn’t stop families from having fun at Forreston’s Hometown Days.

Hometown Days kicked off July 21 with a fun run and 5k at Warnken Park, “The Sandlot” movie at Veteran’s Memorial Park, and food served by Relay For Life, bingo, and Karaoke in the downtown area.

However, friendly fun wasn’t the only thing that greeted families that evening; dark clouds joined the party, and brought overwhelming rain with them.

Storms carrying through into the early morning hours left Memorial Park damp and muggy, but the show still went on.

"Unfortunately it shortened the bingo time and the Relay for Life food stand, but we were able to complete the 5K," said Jane Koeller, Hometown Days committee member. "However, if it was going to rain one day, that was when it needed to be."

Saturday’s 3 on 3 basketball tournament carried on inside the Forreston High School gymnasium, and vendors, the Bouncy House and obstacle course, and petting zoos still settled themselves in for the long haul.

“We’ve been up since 2 a.m. bailing out the basement,” said Forreston Village Clerk Courtney Warren, who was selling aronia berry products with her husband, Tod. “We thought about staying home, but we decided we couldn’t miss this.”

The humidity didn’t stop a couple of crowd favorites from returning, either: the Pie and Spaghetti Eating Contests, respectively.

Christina Hatlak, owner of Christina’s Bakery, 25 Church St., German Valley, showed up with several of her berry and apple pies, ready to be scarfed down in gruesome fashion.

Two divisions were formed: one for children 16 and under, and another for 17 and above.

Forreston kids Cayden Shelton, Joel Ludwig, Madyson Carpenter, and Henry Warren all showed up to see who could get the dirtiest and the fullest, but Ludwig ended up taking home the $25 prize and the pride of knowing he ate the most pastry.

The adults were up next, but Kevin Green ran away with it, cleaning his entire pan before Kim Brown and Nick Kavala could come close.

“I’ve never done an eating contest before, but this was a lot of fun and I’m glad I did it,” said Green.

Brown joked that she only came by to purchase fresh garlic, and ended up eating a pie.

“This is always a big highlight of my summer,” said Hatlak, beaming, as the pie carcasses were being cleaned up.

Green told Hatlak “That was a very tasty pie, by the way,” to which a crowd member shouted “How would you know?! You didn’t have time to taste it!”

Time for leisurely tasting would be absent, as well, for the next challenge: a pile of spaghetti, courtesy of Mimmo’s Pizza, Forreston.

This time, though age brackets were separated into 8-to-12, 13-to-18, and 17 and up, all 10 eaters went at it together.

Ludwig would win again, with Logan Lauer dominating the youngest group and Tod Warren cleaning up the adults section.

Crowds were on the short side this year for the early day, but picked up later on — presumably, after storm-related clean-up was complete.

"Mother Nature plays a huge part in the crowds and unfortunately there were a lot of people dealing with things of far greater importance than Hometown Days," said Koeller. "However, the pork chop dinner, Sunset Strip on Saturday night, the community church service, and the community pancake breakfast were all well attended.  It is always nice to see the community gather together and celebrate their hometown."

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