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Maine's Redneck Games Take Down-Home Approach To Athletics

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

We go now to a very different set of games. Three words - wife-carrying contest. This is the next stop in our tour of offbeat festivals.

SUSAN SHARON, BYLINE: This is Susan Sharon in Hebron, Maine, where the Redneck Blank is underway. This is the sixth year of the weekend event that was originally called the Redneck Olympics until organizers ran into some trouble with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

So they've changed the name but not the purpose of this event. It's a party devoted to all things redneck.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hey, everybody. Don't forget to sign up for the Redneck Games happening down there in the pit.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOTORCYCLE)

HAROLD BROOKS: My full name's Harold Brooks. And I originally started this because I felt like people didn't have enough stuff to do. When I thought of it, I thought rednecks, to me, were people who worked hard. At the same time, they wanted to have some fun.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The first thing we're doing tonight is the toilet seat horseshoes. And the first name up is Nicole Weeks (ph).

CARRIE MCLANE: I'm Carrie McLane (ph) from New Gloucester, Maine.

KATHY JANOE: And I'm Kathy Janoe (ph) from New Gloucester, Maine.

SHARON: What does redneck mean to you guys?

MCLANE: Someone from the country.

JANOE: I'd say somebody that loves their country, worships God and only puts good intentions out there. They're not bothering anyone.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOTORCYCLE)

SHARON: What's the best part of the event for you here?

JANOE: The wife carry, probably. You haven't seen it.

SHARON: I haven't seen it. I can't wait - the wife-carrying contest. Are you going to participate?

MCLANE: Next year. Next year.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Come on. Give a round of applause for our other contestants here. OK, next...

LED ZEPPELIN CROSBY: My name's Led Zeppelin, by the way. Led Zeppelin Crosby is my full name.

SHARON: So what do you think so far?

CROSBY: I think it's awesome.

JENNIFER MITH: My name is Jennifer Mith (ph). And I'm from Prince William, N.H.

SHARON: Tell me about your vehicle and what you're about to do.

MITH: We're about to go through the mud hole in a Jeep Cherokee - 8-cylinder.

SHARON: And you're driving.

MITH: And I'm driving. I've grown up in a junkyard and do this stuff all the time.

JODEY GOODRALL: I'm Jodey Goodrall (ph).

SHARON: You got a family loaded up on a flatbed on their couches.

GOODRALL: Right. Yeah. See how much fun it is?

SHARON: Like the living room came right to the mud pit.

GOODRALL: (Laughter) Right. Yeah.

SHARON: Well, let me ask you a question. How long you been standing by this mud pit?

GOODRALL: My whole life.

(APPLAUSE)

BROOKS: Oh, yeah. Yummy (ph) gets the gold.

SHARON: For NPR News, I'm Susan Sharon at the Redneck Blank in Hebron, Maine. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Deputy News Director Susan Sharon is a reporter and editor whose on-air career in public radio began as a student at the University of Montana. Early on, she also worked in commercial television doing a variety of jobs. Susan first came to Maine Public Radio as a State House reporter whose reporting focused on politics, labor and the environment. More recently she's been covering corrections, social justice and human interest stories. Her work, which has been recognized by SPJ, SEJ, PRNDI and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, has taken her all around the state — deep into the woods, to remote lakes and ponds, to farms and factories and to the Maine State Prison. Over the past two decades, she's contributed more than 100 stories to NPR.