For the second year in a row, a Washington medical doctor won the annual Tualatin Crawfish Festival's crawfish-eating contest, wolfing down an estimated 13 pounds of the cooked crustaceans in seven minutes.
This year's event, held Saturday afternoon at Tualatin's Community Park, pitted 12 contenders (two of whom were selected at random) along a table loaded with four-pound foil pans of crawfish.
Both Dan Floyd, chief operating officer of Hood to Coast, and Tualatin Mayor Frank Bubenik, served as emcees, providing a play-by-play assessment of the eat-as-many-crawfish-as-you-can contest.
And why just seven minutes?
"Because you don't want to watch people eat for more than seven minutes," Floyd pointed out.
When the event commenced, shells cracked and segmented body parts flew as a dozen grown-ups fought to eat the most bottom dwellers they could.
Many cheered for Dr. Paul Pumilia, an internal medicine doctor from Bonney Lake, Wash.
"Paul's on his second tray!" yelled Floyd at one point.
"He's incredible." a fan told a friend who was among the throng who had gathered close in to the feeding table to watch the event.
"He's in the zone," Mayor Bubenik said of Pumilia minutes later. "Wow, third tray!"
At the same time, there were loads of cheers for the women competing in the event including Marisa Fanguy, who goes by her food-eating nom de plume, "Cajun Sparkle."
This was the first year that awards were distributed to both male and female winners (along with an overall winner being recognized).
Seated next to Pumilia was Stephen "Croc" McCormick (dressed as Crocodile Dundee, complete with a faux Bowie knife) a crowd-pleaser returning after a bout with cancer sidelined him last year.
When it was over, Bubenik said all the competitors were impressive, pointing out that a lot of crawfish had been consumed.
No surprises here, both were Pumilia and Fanguy were named winners.
For Pumilia, it was his third total win.
Asked if he was surprised to take top honors again, Pumilia, 48, simply replied, "no," he wasn't.
He did note that the crawfish this year were larger. (A staff member said they were sustainably harvested from the cold, clear water at Lake Billy Chinook.)
For his efforts, Pumilia received a "2019 Crawfish Eating Champion" belt buckle along with a gift certificate.
Pumilia, who estimated he ate 175 crawfish, said his stomach wasn't even full from the contest and planned to eat with his family later that night in Portland.
For the record, Pumilia's first win was in 2016. The next year he lost, claiming, "It was rigged a bit," before winning both in 2018 and again today.
His technique is simple, "Pop the head, suck the tail," he said.
So proud is he of his passed victories that he has a plaque up on one of his exam wall rooms that proves he's the crawfish-eating champion.
Meanwhile, Fanguy consumed 71/2 pounds of crawfish, she said
Not surprisingly, both Fanguy and Pumilia originally hail from Louisiana, where crawfish have long been king. Fanguy, who lived in New Orleans for 22 years, said this was her first entry into the contest.
"It was fun," said Fanguy, a water engineer for the City of Beaverton.
Meanwhile, this Tualatin Crawfish Festival set records with 2,500 people attending Friday night for Stone in Love, a Journey cover band, according to Charles Farrenkopf, manager of operations for Hood to Coast, which puts together the annual event.
He said they expected to set another record Saturday with a total of 6,500 expected by the end of the evening to see Petty Fever, a Tom Petty tribute band, set for 8 p.m.
Farrenkopf said new events have helped to boost attendance as well including a slew of the Crawfish Crawl races held Saturday morning.
"We had a greater turnout than last year's," he said of the races, which included a 5K, 10K, relay and kid's run.
A bubble machine and kids fish pond at the event proved to be huge crowd draws for children as well.
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