April 4, 2011
Champ downs 26 pancakes
Maple festival’s pancake eating contest raises over $7,850 for 10 area charities
MARATHON — According to his cousin, Bill Tillotson just looks like a man who can eat a lot.
That’s the reason the Center Lisle resident was chosen to represent the Marathon Methodist Church, of which his cousin Kelly Tillotson is a member, at the 15th Annual Pancake Eating Contest at the Central New York Maple Festival.
“That was very nice of her,” Tillotson said, grinning after taking home first place with 26 pancakes.
Tillotson had not entered any competitive eating contests before Saturday.
He put down 24 pancakes in a practice run after being asked to enter.
“I figured I’d eat fast,” Tillotson said.
Samantha McMahon, who was crowned Maple Queen Friday at the start of the weekend-long festival, began the pancake eating contest by dropping a makeshift syrup bucket to begin the 15-minute time period.
Each of the 10 competitors entered to raise money for a nonprofit organization. Over $7,850 was raised for the charities.
Tillotson raised almost $1,250 for the Marathon Methodist Church.
Last year’s co-champion, Lauren Hirschberg, said once he saw Tillotson’s pace, he knew he could not keep up.
“Once he was on number nine and I was on four, I knew,” Hirschberg said. “I just wanted to finish out strong.”
Hirschberg, who last year downed 18 pancakes to tie for victory with Marathon native Jordon Lilley, ate15 this year.
“I’m strictly here for fun this year,” Hirschberg told the crowd while being introduced by Connie White, the chair of the festival’s entertainment committee.
The Hoboken, N.J., native and New York City chef raised $1,200 in flat donations before the contest even began, along with $30 for eating 15 pancakes for the Marathon Olympians Relay for Life Team.
On top of what each competitor raises in donations, the Maple Festival adds $2 per pancake eaten.
Roger Morehouse, competing for Wendy’s Walk for Kids of Cortland, and Lyncoln Barber, competing for the Virgil United Methodist Church, tied for second with 17 pancakes a piece at the contest Saturday.
Morehouse cited his experience from last year’s contest, which was his first.
“I paced myself a little bit better,” Morehouse said, adding that he started dunking pancakes in the water to help them go down easier.
Although Tillotson had an impressive showing, it was still nine short of the record, held by Joe LaRue.
LaRue was on hand to give advice to the competitors and to help tally the pancake totals.
“Don’t pace yourself — go full bore as fast as you can,” LaRue said. “Your body tells you to stop when you pace yourself.”
LaRue, originally from the Binghamton area, said he had been coming to the Maple Festival for about 30 years, and did not realize there was an eating competition until it had already been established for a couple of years.
“I came in and did 26 without having any idea what I was doing,” LaRue said.
In his last Pancake Eating Contest in Marathon, he finished a record high 35 pancakes. He now lives in Kentucky and is a professional competitive eater.
Despite a sore throat, LaRue recently ate 45 chicken wings in 6 minutes to take the championship in Lexington, Ky.
LaRue, the biggest man on stage, told the smallest competitor, La’Zhay Reinford, he should eat at least nine pancakes to match his age.
Reinford managed to eat four pancakes, but still ended the competition with a smile on his face, raising over $500 for the First Presbyterian Church of Marathon.
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