Oct 19, 2012 6:38 PM by Jenise Fernandez

A Champion is Crowned at the Rice Eating Contest at the International Rice Festival

Life is "rice and easy" in Crowley this weekend. The 76th International Rice Festival is in full swing. The highlight of the day was the always fierce and entertaining rice eating contest. Twelve contestants competed
The stage was set in front of the courthouse and the players started taking their seats. The first to volunteer was two-time champion William Istre, who holds the record of most rice scoops at 37.

"Eat as much as I can. I hope I can break the record again," said Istre.

But Istre realizes he forgot his lucky spoon. Can he handle the pressure?

"I just wanna win! That's all," he added.

Istre needs all the luck he can get. There was stiff competition. Younger contestants with hardy appetites, a beauty queen, and the 1992 rice-eating champion.

"Just shove it down as fast as you can. Don't worry about the taste," said Rudy Ruddock, the 1992 champ.

Signing up at the last minute were two brothers from Crowley. Their strategy?

"We're just gonna shove it in our mouths!" said Chris Betrand.

The announcer yelled for the contestants to start. They had 10-minutes to chow down all the rice they can eat. The young ones started off strong, but started to lose steam. At the halfway point, Bertrand was in the lead with Istre close behind. The clock stopped. The competition so close the judges needed a moment to deliberate. Finally a decision was made, a new champion was crowned. Betrand won with 25 scoops, Istre a close second with 24 scoops.

"I just washed it down with water and shoved as much as I could down my throat," said Betrand.

Maybe Istre really did need his lucky spoon, but there's always next year.



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