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Shop owner Pat Netko, alongside her mascots Katie White and Morgan Lohmiller, explained the rules of the contest. Photo by Dan Determan

Screaming for ice cream

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More than 120 people crowded in the front lawn of Lake Country Crafts & Cones in Crosslake on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 14, for the business' 14th annual ice cream eating contest.

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Forty-eight contestants — ranging in age from 3 to 64 — engaged in races to see who could eat a bowl of ice cream the fastest with a number of stipulations, depending on the contestant's age.

"I think everyone had a lot of fun," shop owner Pat Netko said. "We had more kids in our younger age groups than we usually do. It's just a fun thing for everyone to come out and do."

Netko, who has owned the 32-year-old shop since 2000, has hosted the competition for as many as 90 contestants in previous years, and admits that number was considerably lower this year. However, she attributed that to the date (always the second Thursday of August) being later this year and having to fight for time with both the NHRA national races at Brainerd International Raceway and school sports practices.

Each of the contests, which were broken into five age groups, saw contestants eating a bowl of ice cream without using any utensils. In the preschool-age 5 group, contestants could use their fingers; 6- to 8-year-olds could hold their bowl; and 9- to 12-year-olds could steady the bowl on the table. Competitors in both the 13- to 16-year-old group and the 17-adult group were not allowed to touch their bowls with their hands.

Those who finished in the top three of each age group won coupons for free and discounted products at Lake Country Crafts & Cones, as well as free rounds of mini-golf at the Whistling Wolf Mini Golf Complex in Crosslake.

"It is a way to give back to the people, and it is a fun gathering time," Netko said. "Everybody loves a little competition once in a while."

The event ended with 36-year-old Adam Dahlen of Hartland finishing his bowl in less than 20 seconds.

"I want to thank my dad for all the ice cream, and my dog for teaching me how to do it," Dahlen said, laughing.

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Dan Determan
Staff Writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper
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