Sunday morning, in front of a small but jubilant crowd, three men shoveled syrup-drenched flapjacks into their mouths for a chance to be crowned pancake eating champion.
The contest is a new addition to Oktemberfest for 2012. Those who gorged themselves on pancakes paid $6 for the honor, lining a table at the Coliseum.
Zach Wahl, the event's organizer, said the idea was born out of a desire to add another fun event to the fall festival. Plus, he said they were already making the pancakes for the pancake breakfast.
T-R PHOTO BY DAVID ALEXANDER
Clayton Bramon, left, Mark Williams, center, and Greg Niblo eat pancakes Sunday morning at the Coliseum’s first-ever pancake eating contest as part of Okemberfest. All three men ate more than 20 pancakes and were awarded Chamber Dollars.
"We just thought while we have it, might as well do something with them," he said.
In the end, Mark Williams, 48, won the first-ever title, beating fellow flapjack aficionados Clayton Bramon, 26, and Greg Niblo, 28.
Wahl organized the event in three-minute heats with each contestant getting four pancakes at a time until they could eat no more.
Williams ate 24 pancakes while both his competitors ate just over 21. Williams ate another three pancakes after the contest had ended.
"Just eat," he said of his strategy.
He said he likes competitive eating because of the people he meets, the places he gets to visit, and, of course, the food. He has never eaten pancakes competitively. In preparation, he said, he ate an entire watermelon the night before.
All three contestants won Chamber Dollars, which the men can spend at any Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce business. Williams won $25 and both Bramon, the runner-up, and Niblo won $10.
"I ate more than I thought I could," Niblo said. "I got full because of the all the syrup."
Following the adult contest, five kids were given to opportunity to show off their pancake-eating chops.
Local couple Robert and Dana Gutierrez's 12-year-old son Oscar also walked away with $25 in Chamber Dollars. Oscar ate his three pancakes faster than the other four boys did.
"He was starving," Robert said of his son.
The couple said the boy's birthday is coming up so they plan to let him spend the money on whatever he wants.
Wahl said the Coliseum is looking to make the contest an annual event. He said the event went well for the first year, and he hopes it sets the bar for future years and draws in more participants.
Sunday marked the end of the four-day fall festival.
All three men said they would likely compete next year. Niblo said substituting butter for syrup next year might allow him to eat more. Williams said he would be ready to defend his title.