Weekend fun gets dirty as teams vie for Mud Bowl title in North Conway
The North Country Crocs didn’t win any prizes at the 30th annual Tournament of Mud Bowl Parade on Saturday, but the mud football players did whatever it took to raise money for nonprofits. This year’s theme was “Mud Bowl, the Musical” with the Crocs belting their own take on a song from “Annie.” (SARA YOUNG-KNOX PHOTO)
The theme of the event was “Mud Bowl, the Musical”, and parade entrants performed musical skits in front of the judges with the Conway Scenic Railroad station as the backdrop.
The home team, Mt. Washington Valley Hogs, rocked the audience while the Carrabasset Valley Rats’ Mudlahoma put a dreadlocked reggae spin on the classic Broadway show.
Schneider family members served as grand marshals, honoring the contributions of Hannes Schneider and his son, Herbert, to the valley. Hebert Schneider died earlier this year.
During the parade, a bare-armed, tattooed football player rushed to the edges of the sidewalk, where he made certain that a young child got some candy from his bag.
Even though the Nashua Gumby player was wearing a blonde wig and a woman’s halter top, the young boy reached in the plastic bag for some candy.
The two had something in common. Neither were born when the Mud Bowl was created some 40 years ago.
It’s been 36 years since the mud football championships were first played in North Conway, where teams from across New England battled for the title in a farmer’s cornfield, not far from the First Bridge over the Saco River. Though the championships started in Maine, it found a home in New Hampshire.
Back then, there was no outlet shopping, no 500 TV channels, no Twitter nor Facebook. At the end of summer, when tourist cabins were empty until Columbus Day Weekend and the Fryeburg Fair, locals had to make their own entertainment.
The 1970s brought an influx of baby boomers to Mount Washington Valley, many of whom figured out very quickly that not only did you have to make your own fun during the offseasons, you had to find a way to make your own living, too.
The success of the Mud Bowl, and the Tournament Parade of Mud Bowl, which was first held in North Conway Village in the early 1980s, was due in great part to the late Steve Eastman, co-founder of The Mountain Ear.
Eastman found a way to have fun and bring in revenue.
The Mud Bowl filled up motels during the usually quiet weekend after Labor Day and brought customers into restaurants.
It’s also been a big fundraiser for local nonprofits, and an affordable event for the whole family. Admission is $6 day for adults, $4 for children, with a three-day pass — it was held Friday, Saturday and Sunday — for families for $15.
“I can’t stop smiling,” Bernie Friberg of Fryeburg, Maine, said at the end of the parade. “It’s as much fun as it always was.”
Friberg said she’s been going to the parade and games for 25 years and was a Hoggette for eight years. The Hoggettes are the cheerleaders for the hometown team, the Mount Washington Valley Hogs.
“They keep raising the bar,” she said of the caliber of entertainment from the teams and community organizations.
“This was fabulous, it was my first,” Leanne Waldie, also a Fryeburg resident, said.
The game itself is a hard-fought contest waged in several inches of goopy mud.
Hog Coliseum is near the North Conway Community Center, almost across from the North Conway Day Care. The day care, housed in the Reverence for Life Building, has been one of the chief recipients of the event’s fundraising.
This year, 10 teams vied for the championship.
For results of the playoffs, go to nccommunitycenter.org and click on Mud Bowl 2012.
Dodgeball returns to Windham schools
Congo war's legacy follows survivor to NH