STEWIACKE – “Hey, did I ever tell you your wife has a crush on me?”
A bale of hay held high overhead, Nick Perry, the defending hay bale hoist champ, began getting dicey with his opponents.
“What, come on! He can’t do that!” the butt of his joke yelled back, his arms now beginning to quiver over his head.
“That's fair game, boys!” yelled the referee.
The annual Cowboy Cup, a pinnacle event of Stewiacke Town Days, was in full swing. Perry stood toe-to-toe with nine other opponents in the strongman competition.
After 10 minutes passed by, Perry was left standing with two other opponents. They weren’t men, however, but rather a team of two girls, Mandy Wilson and Jenna Isenor.
“This isn’t fair,” Perry shouted. “There’s two of them. They can take breaks and stuff!”
“Shut up, Nick, and quit lodging it on your head,” Mandy quipped back.
A couple more minutes passed before the competition turned nasty, with the girls ramming their bale into Perry’s. He returned fire, knocking it out of their hands. Thinking he had won, Perry slammed his bale to the ground and celebrated, only to find Jenna had held on one-handed and saved it.
Hundreds of people flocked to the recreation grounds in Stewiacke on Saturday afternoon to take in the day’s events. A breakfast and softball tournament kicked off the day, with ball games running throughout the weekend. The afternoon parade officially opened the celebration, which has run for more than 40 years.
The big draw, however, was the Cowboy Cup. The games opened up with a bucket race, where opponents had to draw buckets of water and run down the field with it held over their heads before pouring it into a five-gallon bottle. Some went slowly, filling their buckets to the brim, while others made mad dashes with lighter loads. It was a stressful affair, as evidenced by the cigarette hanging from Cody Connors’ mouth as he inadvertently drenched himself in water while running down the field.
Next up was a race pitting the 10 competitors against each other – and their own patience – while backing a small trailer attached to a golf cart through a field of pylons. Some took it slow, and calmly wound their way through, while the less enduring simply jackknifed the trailer and dragged it the whole way.
Gathered amongst the crowd watching the action was the Crowe family – Peter, Myra and Helen. Myra and Peter grew up in Stewiacke before moving elsewhere – Peter in Sackville, Myra in Ontario. They return home as often as possible, and rarely miss Town Days.
“It’s just great fun,” Myra said. “I grew up playing ball here, and so did Peter, so it’s always nice to come back and bring back memories.”
“There’s always a lot of people I haven’t seen in a while too, so it’s good to see old faces,” Peter said.
After skipping the grease pole contest (for the second year in a row, it was just too greasy to be humanly possible), the cowboys and gals moved on to the final event – the mudslide.
Soaked in water, mud and watermelon-scented dish soap, the slip-n-slide required less strategy than the previous events.
“Just gun it and hope for the best,” a spectator called out.
As one of the bigger contestants, Cody Connors ran away with the victory. That is, until the slide was opened up to the crowd.
“There’s no way I’m not trying this,” said a man identified only as Fred, as his children scurried behind him to the top of the slide.
The crowd erupted in cheers as he slid past Connors’ mark and nearly to the end of the 50-foot slide, before leaping to his feet, shaking mud from his eyes and high-fiving everyone in sight.