Annual Block Party Brings Together Campus Community

Filled with fun, food, raffles, contests, and more, the temporary downpour on Wednesday evening, Sept. 9., had nothing on Frostburg’s annual Block Party. Sponsored by Frostburg State University Student Activities and the City of Frostburg Parks and Recreation Department, locals and students alike gathered on Main Street to familiarize themselves with the various businesses and organizations located here in Frostburg.

A few members from the Fandom Society: Grace Hinkle (left), Reagan Joy (middle), Christopher Holmes (right). *edit this caption for sure*
Members of the Fandom Society, Grace Hinkle (left), Reagan Joy (middle), Christopher Holmes (right), attract passersby with their exciting booth.

Among the various FSU student organizations scattered along the sidewalks of Main Street was the Fandom Society. A relatively new but active group on the Frostburg campus, this was their second year hosting a booth at the Block Party. According to Grace Hinkle, a senior here at FSU, the Fandom Society is, “a group of people who share similar interests in TV shows, films, books, comics, music, etc.– pretty much anyone who is a fan of remotely anything in pop culture.” All students are encouraged to attend Fandom Society meetings every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in CCIT 156.

Also present at the Block Party was a local organization from LaVale, the Allegheny Mountain Beekeepers Association (AMBA). The AMBA consists of a group of beekeepers from the tri-state area who meet once a month to discuss the preservation of bees. Some members have been keeping bees for over 50 years and continue to lend their expertise to new, prospective beekeepers. Meetings are open to the general public and are held on the second Friday of every month at the LaVale, MD public library at 7 p.m.

Farther down Main Street, was the Department of Theatre and Dance. Their booth was hosted by two freshmen, Terrell Gross and Devon Hayes who were new to the Block Party scene. Gross and Hayes are both theatre majors at FSU with a concentration in acting. According to the pair, the other two concentrations offered within the department are theatre studies and design. A raffle was held with season tickets as the prize. The first show “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” begins on Friday, Oct. 6. at 7:30 p.m. in the F. Perry Smith Studio Theatre.

Following crowds of people and lively music, students and community members were drawn to the Ninth Annual Hot Pepper-Eating Contest. With a stage located next to Dante’s Bar, about 20 participants had the chance to compete for $150 as the top prize. For the most part, the rules were  simple. Contestants had to eat a specific hot pepper each round without getting sick. If they were unable, they were immediately disqualified. Every five rounds the peppers got even hotter, following the order below:

Oger Lewies, Hot Pepper-Eating Contest MC and worker at Dante's Bar.
Oger Lewies, Hot Pepper-Eating Contest MC and employee at Dante’s Bar, prepares for the contest.
  • Rounds 1-5: Jalapeno
  • Rounds 5-10: Habanero
  • Rounds 10-15: Jay’s Peach Ghost Scorpion
  • Rounds 15+: Carolina Reaper

Contestants had exactly one minute to eat the pepper, followed by a minute-long break and a bottle of water. They had to completely chew and swallow the pepper before presenting their empty mouths to judges. The jalapeno rounds went by pretty smoothly. Only a few people withdrew, as the remaining 15 tried to prepare themselves for the habaneros. With Dante’s worker Oger Lewies as the MC for the night, he made sure to keep the contest entertaining. After the participant’s first habanero, Lewies snickered and said, “If y’all puke, puke off stage”. Immediately after, a couple of them did just that.

 Zachary Greaves, first place winner in the Ninth Annual Pepper-Eating Contest pictured with friends after claiming his $150 prize.
Zachary Greaves, first place winner in the Ninth Annual Pepper-Eating Contest poses with friends after claiming his $150 prize.

As the night went on, the peppers got hotter and the contestants got queasier. With only a handful still standing, volunteers brought out the Jay’s Peach Ghost Scorpion peppers. “Another one down. We’re losing them like flies. No milk. All pain baby, all pain,” echoed Lewies. By the time the Carolina Reapers were introduced, there were only three competitors left. Some audience members tried to keep the contest upbeat yet competitive, shouting things like, “You can do it! We’re going to Rocky Gap!”.

A few peppers from Lewies' collection.
Lewies displays a few peppers from his personal collection.

After a few Carolina Reapers, it was clear who the final winner was. Zachary Greaves, a senior at FSU, took home the cash prize of $150. The second place winner was awarded $100, followed by the third place winner who was awarded $50. After a brief conversation with Greaves, he not only told The Bottom Line this was his first time competing in a Hot Pepper-Eating Contest, but his first time tasting a Carolina Reaper as well. When asked why he participated this year, he replied, “I just wanted the money. I need tattoo money.”

When catching up with Lewies after the contest, he expressed his hobby for growing peppers. He mentioned that he grows about 35 different peppers at his local farm in Frostburg, and he has hosted a few Hot Pepper-Eating Contests in the past. Although this was his first time MCing, Lewies has worked with the Block Party for a couple of years now. When asked what he believes to be the best strategy for these particular contests, he replied, “Don’t drink anything. The water is tempting, yeah, but it provides a false sense of security. It’s better if your mouth is numb to let the heat sort of go through you. It’ll end up hurting more with water, believe me.”

The annual Block Party will be held again next year with high hopes of more students and beautiful weather.  Students are encouraged to continue getting to know the Frostburg community and other students and organizations on campus.

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