Boys and girls again participate in annual pentathlon
SILVER CREEK — Since the Festival of Grapes began in 1968, the children’s pentathlon has been a mainstay. One of the people coordinating the event, Carol Kuchera, has been doing so for nearly 15 years, and while some of the traditions remain in place, there are some new things that have popped up only recently.
“It’s been going on since 1968 when the festival began, and was originally boys only. The winner was the Grape Prince. We used to have a pageant that would come up with three winning girls, and along with the Grape Grower of the year, they would make up the royal court,” Kuchera said.
The most recent inclusion to the pentathlon is the participation of girls, coinciding with the end of the pageant that was previously used to decide the Grape Princess every year. Kuchera said the change was necessary.
“In modern times, there’s not that much interest in a pageant, so we don’t have a pageant, so we invited the girls to participate in the pentathlon. The royal court now consists of the first and second place winners for both boys and girls,” Kuchera said.
Girls have been able to participate in the pentathlon since 2016, and the results so far have been positive, as the girls, along with the boys, show a great enthusiasm for wanting to participate.
“It’s very good. The girls really like being more athletic than dressing up and being in a pageant. The winners get a ride pass for the weekend, and they get to march in the parade. All the first and second place kids stomp grapes,” Kuchera said.
Over the last three years, and even since the event’s inception, the turnout has been inconsistent. While the boys event has had a pretty consistent turnout, with the girls being newer participants, it is taking a little time to build a community, but it is indeed growing.
“We’ve had strong years, we’ve had years where we didn’t get a lot of turn out. It’s varied, and right now we’re still building the girls event. We’re happy to see all these girls participating, and we’re hoping to get more,” Kuchera said.
The events that the kids perform are a soccer dribbling contest, a long jump, a 50 yard dash, a frisbee toss, and a softball/baseball long throw. The winners will be announced Friday at the start of the Festival of Grapes.