SILVER CREEK - The crowd cheered and grape juice was pouring at the grape stomp held Thursday at the 46th Annual Festival of Grapes.
A crowd of children, parents and community members gathered on Park Place in the village to watch as seven heats of grape stomping left each group of three with a winner and two runners up.
First to stomp were pageant winners Miss Gabriella Lockwood, Junior Miss Alexis Murawski and Little Miss Genevieve Balestieri, followed by Pentathlon Prince Dean League and runners up Aiden Piccolo and Luke Tarnowski.
OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
Grape Grower of the Year Chris Ortolano (right) is pictured with Miranda Pagano and Justin Miller before they stomp grapes Thursday on the opening day of the 46th Annual Festival of Grapes.
Lockwood and Piccolo jumped and twisted their way to victory in their heats.
Aiden's mom, Margie, made sure to put petroleum jelly on all the boys because two years ago Aiden's brother Andrew, who stomped as a pentathlon prince, had purple legs for several days after the event.
"It was so hard to get off," she said.
Other heats included Grape Grower of the Year Chris Ortolano with Miranda Pagano and Justin Miller; M&M Zumba instructors Marcie Martin, Michelle Maggio and Sarah Chamberlain; Silver Creek Firefighters Brandon Griewisch, Nick Coggins and Steve Quinn, and Hanover town officials Clerk Janine Salzman, Supervisor Todd Johnson and Councilman Fritz Seegert.
Salzman said she was very excited to participate in the grape stomp and said "foot placement" was a key part of her strategy.
Todd Johnson, who has stomped grapes before, had a winning strategy.
"It's not about how high you jump or how fast you stomp, it is all about squishing the grapes along the side. It's all about the twist and stomp," he said.
Johnson took first place in the heat., with Salzman taking third.
There was also a drawing for children to be selected to stomp. Winners were Jeffrey Debergalis, Gracie Hoelzle and Tyler Rosas. It was a close match but judge Kurt Lindstrom declared Gracie the winner with Jeffrey a close runnerup.
Jeffrey, 11, said he was excited and that he didn't think his name would be drawn. His mom rushed home to get him some large winter boots just in case.
In addition to the grape stomp several contest winners were announced at the opening ceremony of the festival. Pageant winners were presented. Pentathlon Prince Dean League was crowned by last year's winner Joseph Bowers and all three boys were given trophies and prizes.
T-shirt design winner was awarded to Joey Donovan. There were 20 baby contest entries this year. Winning boy was Jaxson Jaquith, son of Melissa Pazderski and Chad Jaquith. Winning girl was Lexi Law, daughter of Amanda Gernatt and Justin Law.
Ortolano, field manager for Arlou Farms, was announced as Grape Grower of the year and Mac Crowe was named Parade Grand Marshal.
A moment of silence was held for the late Edna Franklin, a past Festival of Grapes Committee member. Thanks were given to the committee and to the farms that donated grapes for stomping.
Festival of Grapes events continue this weekend with rides, concessions, entertainment and grape pie sale.
Program books and festival merchandise can be picked up at the festival headquarters in the old Pennysaver office. There are also free guessing games and a basket raffle being held at headquarters.
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