Forty-five pink boxes filled with apricot, cherry and cream cheese kolaches filled an outside pavilion as participants licked their lips anticipating some serious noshing for the first-ever kolache-eating competition at Westfest.
The air smelled sweet and the crowd was loud, ready for attendees to stuff their faces with “Gerik’s Ole’ Czech Bakery”-donated pastries at the 40th annual Westfest Czech polka festival.
The first-of-its-kind-in-West contest included a couple of contestants who couldn’t hold their kolaches and a team competition that required extra time to get them down.
The competition started with the youngest — two girls and three boys who were each given three kolaches, milk and water.
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Some of the boys dunked theirs in cups of milk, but not Alex Kammerer of Purdon.
The 10-year-old girl stuck with water and won the girl's contest in 4 minutes and 26 seconds.
Kammerer had eaten breakfast before she competed.
“She did the chores and milked the cow, too,” said her mom, Christina.
The boys took a bit longer to finish, with Jordan Howell, 12, of Mexia finishing shortly after the girls.
Afterward, he threw up in a trash can behind the competition table, as did one of the five men in the men’s competition. They had to eat eight kolaches, and many stacked them one on top of the other like sandwiches.
David Rawson, 33, of Roanoke made it through four before he got sick.
The winner, Donnie Paxton, 40, of Fort Worth took 9 minutes and 7 seconds to finish. Like Kammerer, he did not touch his milk.
“Milk is not a good idea on a hot day,” he said.
Women had to eat four kolaches to win, and the Star-Telegram’s Denise Harris came close to losing when she didn’t realize a woman down the line was close to beating her. Harris finished in 4 minutes and 6 seconds.
A team round brought all ages to the table, with 24 kolaches divided among three people. With time ticking away and no team close to done, organizers gave everyone extra time to finish.
One team of three young men won, with six kolaches left of the 24.
In the final challenge, the four contestants were given five minutes to eat as many as possible.
“Those little tiny bites ain’t gonna do it, Bubba,” a man from the crowd shouted at a contestant, who in fact did not win.
The winner was Matt Robertson, 25, of Lubbock, who ate six.
“The Marine Corps teaches you to eat fast,” he said. “Now I’m going to go eat some good food.”
All winners walked away with trophies, and Robertson got a year’s worth of kolaches to help him remember the hot, sunny Sunday. The festival ended Sunday.
Organizers anticipate Westfest someday soon will have brought in $1 million over the years. All the money raised goes back into the community.
Since the West Fertilizer Co. exploded in 2013, the polka festival has been more important to the town as a kind of family reunion, West Mayor Tommy Muska has said.
This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.