Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine

Wife Carrying, anyone?

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In my search for fall events and activities to share, I was reminded of the North American Wife Carrying Championship, hosted by Sunday River in Bethel, ME, and scheduled for October 11, 2014.  Now in its 15th year, this event offers both terrific entertainment and pretty appealing prizes.

I was most curious about the origins of this physical event, and Sunday River’s event listing provided the history I was looking for.  I did anticipate that it would be somewhat archaic.  Here’s what they have to say:

The legend behind the North American Wife Carrying Championship is based on 19th century Finnish legend “Ronkainen the Robber” who had high qualifications for the men he accepted into his band. To prove their worth, men had to compete through a difficult course with a heavy sack (or woman grabbed from neighboring villages) on their back.

Ah, the joys of womanhood.

Other sources of information such as Wikipedia and offer variations on this tale, but they all share the same root.

In 1991, Finland hosted their first modern-day wife carrying event, and admitted foreign contestants in 1995.  One of the “prizes” of winning the North American Wife Carrying Championship is entry into Finland’s World Championships held the following summer.  In addition, the lucky winning couple will take home the wife’s weight in beer and five times her weight in cold hard US dollars.

In summary, if I were in Maine, I’d want to check this event out, and even participate in it (don’t worry, Nick, I’m not volunteering you to carry me over obstacles at a run….yet).  I’m also pleased to report that my research revealed that I actually know one of the recent winners, who is a family friend.  Go Rocky!

Although this is the event title that caught my eye and intrigued me most, the charming town of Bethel, Maine, is a perfect example of what Maine has to offer in all four seasons.  October in this part of the state will be full of the vibrant colors of fall foliage, fall scents and activities (apple picking, fatty, delicious fair foods, and more), and all the busy preparations for winter’s rapidly-approaching ski season.

It’s worth noting that this wife-carrying event is just one component of the Fall Festival in Bethel, running on both October 11th and 12th.  Other events include outdoor concerts, the 31st annual Blue Mountain Arts & Crafts festival, Sunday River Sports pre-season sale, pony rides and games for kids, and a wine tent, among others.  This makes a great weekend trip to the mountains for the entire family!

Stay tuned for a forthcoming recipe entitled “Maine Party Chicken.”  It strikes me as a perfect football Sunday meal.  Perhaps if we all make it next Sunday, the Pats will win…

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