Bending over backwards to have fun at Mountain Fair | PostIndependent.com
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Bending over backwards to have fun at Mountain Fair

Mountain Fair visitors witnessed just how low people would go for $20.Around 25 contestants tested their flexibility at the 22nd annual limbo contest on Saturday, cheered on by an enormous, screaming audience at the open space on the fairgrounds at Sopris Park.”It was cool to hear the crowd reacting, no matter what,” said Sarah Graber of Woody Creek, who held on as one of the last seven competitors as the bar dropped to 2 feet, 6 inches. Hundreds gathered around the makeshift limbo ring, eerily silent as the limbo contestant wiggled under the bar, but erupting into loud applause after a clean execution.Contestants ranged from children and adults to a man in a jean skirt, Gerry Hilliard, of Phoenix, Ariz., who said his double-jointedness would help him in the competition. Because anyone can enter the contest, regardless of age or ability, and at any time during the competition, the event has remained a local favorite, said organizer “Doc Limbo,” or Bruce Stolbach.”It’s exciting for somebody who doesn’t have a lot of skills,” said first-time competitor Sharon Leny of Glenwood Springs, pointing out that for the woodchopping contest, muscles are definitely required.”It’s you and your body and you have to coordinate your movements to win,” said second-place winner Justin Scott of Boston, Mass., who also emphasized anybody can try out their elasticity at the event. “It’s really helpful because it gets everybody in the spirit of things,” he said.Drummers provided a consistent beat with a tribal edge as the barefoot contestants, the seats of their pants stained green from falling in the grass, grimaced and contorted their way through the hour-long contest. Each person employed their own technique: Some waddled like a duck, feet splayed; others inched slowly and painfully; and some, in the case of the youngest competitors, simply walked under the bar.Stolbach thought of the idea after using a broom for a makeshift limbo game at a party, and incorporated it into a medicine show at Mountain Fair in 1981. Stolbach created the Mountain Fair Elixir, part of the discontinued medicine show, with water from the fountain of youth on Mount Sopris, although his lips are sealed as to where that fountain exists. A jar of the red elixir now sits near the limbo poles as an instant picker-upper for limbo contestants in a tough spot – and many worn-out contestants did take a chug or two.Three judges, Stolbach, John Hesselman and Ken Lubrant faced the limbo poles, watching as the field whittled down from 25 to two: Scott and the aptly named Jemina Strong, 12, of Carbondale. At two feet, Jemina squeezed her way to victory. For Scott, the second place finish was a bit of a déjà-vu: at the 2003 Mountain Fair, he also placed second to a 12-year-old girl.”It hurt your back, but it’s a lot of fun,” Jemina said after she won. As for the T-shirt and $20 she got for being the 2004 Carbondale limbo champion, she said she’ll save the money – maybe to get her own limbo set to practice for next year.Contact Christine Dell’Amore: 945-8515, ext. 535cdellamore@postindependent.com


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