The rules of the “Battle of the Bosses” pie-eating contest were fairly simple:
Organizers weighed the pies in advance and the five contest entrants, local city managers, had a limited around of time (the length of the hair metal, um, classic song “Cherry Pie” by Warrant) to eat as much of their pie as they could. After the song ended, organizers weighed the pies again to determine who had eaten the most.
In the end, Corvallis City Manager Mark Shepard was named the winner of the contest, which was held Sunday afternoon at 4 Spirits Distillery during the company’s first Corvallis Spirit Festival. The event, which featured live music and tastings with offerings from more than a dozen local craft alcohol makers, was a fundraiser for four veterans organizations.
Dawson Officer, owner of Corvallis-based 4 Spirits, said the net proceeds of the event go directly to the Central Oregon Veterans Ranch, the Oregon State University Student Veterans Association, Samaritan Veterans Outreach and Vets Helping Vets.
Officer said he likes to be efficient, and to that end, he worked to make sure the event did a lot of good all at once: it showcased craft spirits, it raised money for nonprofits and it helped veterans.
“From an efficiency standpoint it’s great,” he said.
He said around 500 tickets were sold in advance and he estimated around 1,000 people would attend the event before it ended.
Officer said the pie-eating contest was a way for attendees to interact with city managers in different way than they might normally. The event was also another way to raise money: organizers sold raffle tickets and buyers then dropped their ticket in a jar with the name of the city manager they thought would win on it. One ticket then was drawn from the winning city manager’s jar. Half the sales of raffle tickets went to the winner and the other half went to the veterans' causes.
In addition to Shepard, the contest included city managers Peter Troedsson of Albany, Rick Hohnbaum of Monroe, Chris Workman of Philomath, and Pat Hare of Adair Village.
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Hare said he got to know Officer well during 4 Spirits’ early days, when the company was located in Adair Village. When Dawson reached out to him about the pie-eating contest he began calling his peers in other cities.
“I was surprised they jumped in,” he said, and then he realized that meant he too would have to participate.
“It’s a good cause,” he said. “When he asked me it was pretty simple to say ‘yes.’”
Shepard said he too participated because it was a good cause.
“I’m really happy to help in raising these funds,” he said.
Shepard added that he felt a bit of pressure to win the competition because it was occurred on his home turf. He said his strategy was to focus on the heavy parts of the pie. Each contestant was provided a cream pie from Shari’s.
“I ignored the crust and concentrated on the custard,” he said.
He said he enjoyed the experience.
“It was a lot of fun to be part of this and the real winners are the veterans,” he said.