NEWRY, Maine — Sunday River will host the 9th Annual North American Wife Carrying Championships on Saturday, October 11 as part of the resort’s annual Fall Festival weekend.
The Wife Carrying competition features couples navigating a 278-yard obstacle course while the man is literally “carrying” the woman. 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 method of carry is the competitors’ choice, though most use the “Estonian” carry, where the “wife” holds her husband around the waist and tightens her legs around his neck, thereby freeing the husband’s hands.
The 2007 event drew 40 teams competing for cash and prizes, with first place including the wife’s weight in beer, five times her weight in cash, and qualification to compete in the World Championships in Finland.
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.
“Sunday River’s Fall Festival marks the unofficial kick-off to the winter season at the resort,” said Dana Bullen, general manager. “This year we are particularly excited to welcome everyone back to show them the progress we’ve made on the installation of our new Chondola ski lift.”. The Chondola is a $7.2 million hybrid ski lift that will run chairs and gondola cabins on the same cable and is the marquee element of the $14 million being invested in the resort this year. The lift is expected to open in late December of this year.
Additional events scheduled for Fall Festival are the 25th Annual Blue Mountain Arts and Craft Fair, a free outdoor concert with Max Creek, a wine tasting, scenic chairlift rides, children’s activities, wagon rides and more. New this year will be the Mountain Epic running race on Sunday, October 12. Organized with Tri-Maine Productions, the Mountain Epic will be a foot race up and down the slopes of Sunday River. A full listing of Fall Festival events is available at www.sundayriver.com.