NEWRY, Maine — Sunday River will host the 8th Annual North American Wife Carrying Championships (NAWCC) on Saturday, Oct. 6. The event is part of Fall Festival weekend at the resort, which will also include the 20th Annual Summit Challenge Race, an Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference mountain bike race, live music, beer garden, wine tasting, the 24th Annual Blue Mountain Arts and Craft Fair, children’s games and activities, scenic chairlift rides, wagon rides and more.
“You know winter is right around the corner when Fall Festival Weekend arrives,” said Dana Bullen, general manager at Sunday River. “People are gearing up their ski houses, picking up their season passes, checking out the foliage or getting in a few last hikes or mountain bike rides. Fall Fest is the big party that brings everyone together to start the one month countdown to ski season.”
The winners of the NAWCC will receive money towards a round-trip ticket to Finland to the World Wife Carrying Championships, five times the wife’s weight in cash, in addition to the traditional prize of the wife’s weight in beer. Prizes are also awarded to second and third place finishers, as well as for special weight and age categories. A full listing of Fall Festival events is available at www.sundayriver.com .
In a recent development, the winners of the 2006 NAWCC John and Tess Farra of Caribou, Maine have been forced to withdraw from the event due to a knee injury. They hope to defend their title in 2008.
Couples navigate a 278-yard obstacle course while the man is literally “carrying” the women. Women are allowed to carry men as well, which occurred for the first time in 2005. The teams do not have to comprise of married couples, but they must comprise of a man and a woman and both must be at least 21 years old to enter. The carry is the competitors’ choice, though most use the “Estonian” carry, where the “wife” holds her husband around the waist of the husband and tightens her legs around his neck, thereby freeing the husband’s hands.
Besides the annual world competition in Finland, there are several regional competitions in the United States that have developed in recent years. Previous winners of the event at Sunday River have included winners from competitions in Oklahoma and Canada, and many have gone on to compete in the world event.
The legend behind the contest is based in Finnish history. In the 19th century, infamous Ronkainen the Robber had high qualifications for men he accepted into his band. They had to complete a difficult course with a heavy sack on their backs. It was also not uncommon for men to steal women from neighboring villages. The first modern-day event was held in 1991 and foreign contestants were admitted in 1995. Qualifiers are also held Sweden and Estonia.
Registration will be open up until the day of the event. Registration on race day is 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and is $35 per team. The competition begins at noon. For more information on the NAWCC or any of the events happening on Fall Festival weekend at Sunday River guests are urged to log on to www.sundayriver.com.