Audience members at Saturday night's Sip & Spell competition will be able to do more than just listen to contestants spell difficult words. They will be able to see those words.
A library technician will type the words in real time on PowerPoint and project them onto a screen, says organizer Bonnie Brzozowski.
"We're going to have the word appear behind the contestant after they spell it out," Brzozowski said.
It's a new wrinkle for the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library's fourth annual "Sip & Spell: A Spelling Bee for Adults" Saturday night at the Whiteside Theatre in Corvallis. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. for participant registration and for people to come in buy food and drinks from Delicias Valley Cafe, Block 15 or 2 Towns Cider. The bee begins at 7 p.m.
The Sip & Spell event works like most spelling bees, with a couple of twists: When registering the contestants can buy various "cheats" to help them in the competition. They can purchase more cheats in the first and second round of the bee, but the prices will double.
The contestants are called up to the stage in groups of 10 to 20 people, and they line up to spell words one at a time. If a contestant spells it correctly they stay in, and if they don't they're eliminated.
That is where the "cheats" come into play. For example, one cheat is called "Next Word, Please." With it the contestant may ask for another word. Or they can take a "Mulligan" if they miss a word and automatically advance to the next round.
This year's pronouncers include Corvallis Mayor Biff Traber; Peter Betjemann, director of the School of Writing, Literature and Film at Oregon State University; Elena Passarello, assistant professor of writing at OSU; Ray Malewitz, director of the Writing Center at OSU, and Faye Chadwell, director of the OSU Library.
Mike McInally, the editor of the Gazette-Times, returns as the bee's emcee.
Brzozowski said the event has seen anywhere from 70 to 90 people participate, so organizers have set a limit at 85 registrants.
The audience, which has included as many 650 people at the Whiteside Theatre, gets into the action by cheering and booing the bee contestants, Brzozowski said.
She had an idea about why the Sip & Spell is a community favorite year after year.
"I think it's a good combo of doing something sort of intellectual and serious, but also silly and fun," she said. "People like to come and just watch as well."