Last weekend, I attended and participated in the International Rutabaga Curling Championship in Ithaca. The Rutabaga Curling Championship officially began at the Ithaca Farmers Market in 1998, although the start of vegetable hurling dates back to 1996. For a complete history of the event, visit the official website, or read the Wikipedia entry.
Rachel and I arrived at the farmers market at 11am, in 20 degree weather. I paid my $5 registration fee and was handed a fresh Rutabaga. The first step in the competition is to carve the Rutabaga to your strategic liking. Or to leave your Rutabaga “Untrimmed”. From there, you’re read an overview of the rules, by the Chief Rutabaga Toss Organizer and Official Announcer. The aim of the game is to roll your Rutabaga down the wooden course aiming for a cone 79 feet away. You’re trying to get the rutabaga as close to the cone as possible…just like in olympic ice curling. There are three semifinal rounds with 20-30 curlers per round. The top 5 curlers from each round move on to the championship.
After the rules are announced, you are greeted by the Rutabaga Torch King and Rutabaga Goddess. From there, the participants assemble into a “Torchlight Parade of Athletes”, complete with olympic music and singing from the “Rutabaga Choir” (see video). I’m not making this up. See the pictures and video below for proof. Following the opening ceremonies, the children come forward for the Turnip Toss. The same rules apply to the turnip toss, but the children stand much closer…and toss a turnip instead of a giant rutabaga. Hats off to Zeke, champion of the Turnip Toss. He was amazing. And you can see his victory speech below.
As for the main competition, my own toss rolled to within 20 inches of the cone. Second best toss of the first round! Not bad for a rookie. Unfortunately, I had a bit too much adrenaline pumping in the championship round and rolled my rutabaga past the target and out of bounds. Disqualified. I’ll be back next year though. And I highly recommend the event to any international curlers, athletes or vegetable root fans.
Rutabaga Curling Championship Gallery
Videos from the Event:
Zeke’s Speech – Winner of the Turnip Toss
Rutabaga Choir – Singing “Rutabaga Chorus” to the tune of Handel’s Messiah #44