Story by Lourice Angie
The Pine Island Chamber of Commerce held its 11th Annual Pine Island Onion Eating Contest on Sun., Sept. 2 at the Polish Legion of American Veterans pavilion in Pine Island, NY. Chamber members were joined by local and elected officials, veterans, local organizations, and hundreds of people from throughout the community to celebrate the annual Onion Festival and onion contest.
The annual Onion Festival is a celebration of Pine Island’s 3,000 acres of hearty onions which are famous throughout the country. The event is organized by Warwick Town Councilman Russell Kowal in cooperation with the Annual Onion Festival and this year it featured special guest host, American polka musician, 18-time Grammy winner, trumpeter, and saxophonist Jimmy Sturr, who kept the crowd entertained and on their feet with his Orchestra.
There were also several traditional and modern polka dances performed by the Pine Island Pokolenie Dancers, which delighted people of all ages. There were also raffles, a 50/50, delicious Polish food items, and a variety of beverages for sale.
“This is great and a collaborative way for the Pine Island Chamber, our host Jimmy Sturr, the Orange County Vegetable Growers, and the Orange County Farm Bureau to promote the industry,” said Kowal.
Annual Onion Eating Contest
There were seven contestants registered for the annual Onion Eating Contest this year. The crowd cheered as they gathered around the competitors table to soak up the atmosphere. Contestants each received an equal sized onion and were given one minute to chop, cut, slice, and prepare them however they wished.
Organizers began the countdown and the race was on. The results were close, but in the end Ray Wesolowski, of Pine Island, was quick enough to skin the competition and take the title in one minute and 42 seconds.
Wesolowski received a plaque sponsored by the Orange County Farm Bureau and a check in the amount of $100 from the Orange County Vegetable Growers Association, which he plans to donate to St. Stanislaus RC Church in Pine Island. He also gets bragging rights. His son-in-law, Gary Boyajian, finished in second place.
“I feel good; I feel really good,” said Wesolowski, when asked how it felt to be this year’s winner.
Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, who was a participant in the contest, said, “These are the tastiest onions ever.”
For more information on the Annual Onion Festival call (800) 724-0727 or visit www.pineislandny.com.