It was all a misunderstanding.
Had the firefighters followed fringe sports, there would have been no need to race up our driveway, sirens blaring. Instead, they would have realized immediately the smoke they saw rising from our hilltop was not an emergency, but merely a bonfire, part of the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Barnyard Olympics.
They’d completely missed Tuesday’s Tick Search Relay, Wednesday afternoon’s 400-Meter Rooster Chase and the ballet-like artistry that is Four-Lawyer Gas Lease Renegotiation, but arrived as the flags were flown and the anthems played one last time (Good job, Burgettstown Marching Band!)
I love all the events, but my favorite, as usual, was the Barnyard Pentathlon, which consists of the following five feats:
The Dead Groundhog Fling: This most majestic of athletic competitions is where it all started. The story is that sometime before cable television, ancient West Virginians staged an athletic competition involving the tossing of a woodchuck carcass. The game has survived the centuries to become the centerpiece of the Barnyard Olympics. This year’s Gold Medalist used the tail as a handle and flung the gas-bloated boar’s body ninety-seven feet.
It was a proud moment.
Unfortunately, our dogs are trained to fetch.
The Five-Gallon Siphon: Barnyard Olympians, armed with an old gas-guzzling Dodge on empty and two yards of garden hose, sucked a can of diesel fuel from a tractor, poured it into the Ram and drove down to buy a box of Huggies before the Rite Aid closed at midnight.
This year’s Siphon was a close event, with Joe Yenko from Slate Lick getting the gold, Natalie Cobb of Fort Cherry awarded the silver with Ed Gordinsky of Lower Marion disqualified for buying Pampers (not the official disposable diaper of the 2012 Barnyard Olympics).
The Fifteen-Meter Hornet’s Nest: Contestants were commanded to point the spray nozzle of a garden hose at a fully-loaded hornet enclave attached to the rafters of our barn’s hay loft, knocking it down from nearly fifty feet away.
Finleyville’s Charlie Castle was this year’s winner. As soon as the swelling subsides, we’ll force the gold medal around his neck.
The Ninety-Two-Meter Dash: Immediately following the Fifteen-Meter Hornet’s Nest, this sprint covered the distance from the barn to the pond, roughly the length of a cow patty-encrusted football field.
This year’s winner, Newt Quayle of Scenery Hill, finished in six-point-two seconds.
The hornets finished second.
Everyone else lost.
The One-Hundred Pound Copper Heist: Members of the Barnyard Olympic Organizing Committee were especially proud of the three foreclosed Consol homes they acquired at auction for this event. Contestants were given hacksaws and simple directions to the local shady metals scrap yard.
The winner (no name or address given) received $312, plus an additional $57 for his first place medal.
And as the closing ceremonies bonfire grew (or, as the volunteer fire fighters called it, “hundreds of dollars in fines”) we proudly brought to a close this, the 2012 version of the Barnyard Olympics.
See you in Hunker in 2016!