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Chickin' Pickin' V - Delmarva Chicken Festival
The Mountaire Chickin’ Pickin’ Championship Ends in a Pick-off
Defending Chickin’ Pickin’ Champion Jonathan Wagner held off a strong challenge from newcomer Kenneth Riddick in the first ever “Pick-off” during the 62nd Annual Delmarva Chicken Festival.
(Georgetown, DE) A large crowd and perfect weather at this year’s Delmarva Festival set the stage for the most competitive Mountaire Chickin’ Pickin’ Championship to date. Hundreds of festival patrons witnessed history as Kenneth Riddick of Allentown, Pennsylvania set a NEW Chickin’ Pickin’ National Record after he demolished seven cooked birds in five minutes to post a weight of 16 lbs, 2 oz. in the 3rd heat of the day. Little did anyone know that was just the beginning of the excitement.
Broadcast LIVE on Delmarva’s Froggy 99.9, the Chickin’ Pickin’ action was fast and furious from the outset. Event emcee John “Whiskey” Wilson of the Froggy Morning Show was calling the rounds and it was anything goes for the twenty eager contestants competing for the $500 in prize money. With four preliminary heats and a championship round, there was non-stop action the entire two hour event. In the first heat, past champion and former Chickin’ Pickin’ record holder, Charlene Jones-Kellam took the top spot with a picked weight of 11 lbs, 2 oz. Defending champion Jonathan Wagner advanced to the finals out of heat two with a weight of 11 lbs, 8 oz. Kenneth Riddick then stole the show in heat three by setting a new Chickin’ Pickin’ record at16 lbs, 2 oz., besting Charlene’s one year old mark of 12 lbs, 2 oz. Chester Wright rounded out the final four by taking the forth heat with a weight of 12 lbs, 8 oz.
For the first time ever the championship round featured several seasoned veterans; current champion Jonathan Wager, a past champion in Charlene Jones-Kellam, a contest veteran in Chester Wright and new record holder Kenneth Riddick. From the word “GO” it was clear something special was about to happen as all four finalists ripped and shredded their way through one bird after another, setting such a frenetic pace that volunteers from the Georgia House restaurants, who cooked 150 chickens for the event, could barely keep up with the demand for more ‘birds. After five furious minutes the final bell sounded and it was time to sort through the meat mounds and determine who would win the title and $500 in prize money. First on the scale was Chester Wright who posted a weight of 13 lbs, 4 oz. Next up was Charlene Jones-Kellam who turned in an impressive haul of 15 lbs, 6 oz. But the always enthusiastic Jones-Kellam was not in a celebratory mood, as she was well aware of the two over-flowing meat trays yet to be weighed. Event newcomer Kenneth Riddick was up third and posted a whopping 16 lbs, 8 oz. earning a roar from the crowd when it was announced he had set a NEW World Record. Riddick’s excitement was short-lived however as defending champion Jonathan Wagner’s tray was placed on the scale, looking as if it might be just enough to win.
After a few tense moments a dismayed Mountaire official relayed Wagner’s total to the crowd, 16 lbs, 8 oz. After five minutes, dozens of cooked birds and some harsh judging, there was a tie.
As the crowd and competitors alike stood in stunned silence, a familiar voice yelled out above the masses, “Let’s have a pick-off!” It was Mountaire Community Relations Director and event organizer, Roger Marino, who then laid out the rules for this sudden death challenge. There would be two minutes of meat picking mayhem between Wagner and Riddick to determine who would claim the famed gold toned belt buckle and title of Mountaire Chickin’ Pickin’ Champion. To the delight of the crowd Marino also announced that Mountaire would be upping the ante for our two pickers; the winner would now take home $600 in prize money and the runner-up would be rewarded with a $200 prize.
“For Wagner and Riddick, I was on the scene, monitoring the competitors and knew very well that it was a grueling two hours, under a blistering hot sun, of picking, pulling and meticulously furious chicken shredding. Competition had been exhaustingly grueling, with pressure from pickin’ competitors nipping at their heels throughout the afternoon, and now; no let up. The competitors, both having set new National records, were tied in a dead meat heat, their numbers deadlocked showing exact same weights were being told by a compassionate me to suck it up and give it their all in a two-minute Pick-Off. But this time the winnings were not for the original $500 first place award, but for an additional $100, plus an added $200 bonus to the runner-up. Eight hundred dollars was on the line for the two head-to head competitors. The rest is history Six hundred dollars to Wagner; with a seven ounce winning separation and two-hundred to Riddick and a deserving round of applause to all who participated in this exciting, growing national competition. I can’t wait ‘til the next competition.” - Roger Marino, Mountaire Corporate Director of Community Relations.
With swollen forearms and tired fingers both competitors labored through the two minute pick-off, happy to hear the final bell, as neither had the strength to pick anymore. Riddick was again up first turning in an impressive two minute total of 8 lbs, 2 oz. But Wagner was not to be outdone on this day, his total of 8 lbs, 9 oz. squeaked out the victory, earning him $600 in prize money, a winners plaque and his 2nd gold-toned Chickin’ Pickin’ belt buckle! Riddick took home $200 and a silver buckle, while Jones-Kellam claimed the bronze belt buckle.
The next Mountaire Chickin’ Pickin’ Championship is slated for Friday, July 22nd from 5pm to 7pm inside the Free Entertainment tent at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington, Delaware. For more information on the Mountaire Chickin’ Pickin’ Championship visit www.mountaire.comor contact Roger Marino at email@example.com
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About Chickin’ Pickin’
The Mountaire Chickin’ Pickin’ Championship pits 20 contestants against one another in a contest of speed, skill and strategy. Each event features four preliminary heats of five competitors each, with our four winners advancing to the finals. In the simplest terms, our winners are determined by who can pick and shred the most meat from our oven roasted chicken(s) in a 5 minute time frame. Contestants have access to an unlimited amount of cooked ‘birds, HOWEVER, they must pick and shred all the meat and skin from a single ‘bird before moving on to a new one. That includes meat from the breast, thighs, legs, wings and back. The picked meat is thrown into a collection tray, which gets weighed at competitions end to determine our winner. Contest judges are on hand to specify when a contestants ‘bird is deemed fully picked, thus allowing them to start a new one. This process will go on for the entire (5) minutes. There can be zero bones or large chunks of meat in the collection tray. Such items will be removed before being weighed.