Skillet toss tests skills, brings smiles

NEW HAVEN — Forty-eight contestants took part in the Ladies’ Iron Skillet Toss at the Addison County Fair and Field Days this past Wednesday afternoon, including nine gents in the two younger age categories.
Competitors came from as close as Cornwall, Addison and Whiting, and from as far away as Massachusetts, Miami and San Diego — and even Australia, New Zealand, England and Slovakia.
Heftily represented in the 18-and-older category were counselors from nearby Camp Betsey Cox and Camp Sangamon, both in Pittsford.
A good time was had by all.
Field Days volunteer and board member Megan Sutton kept the players on their toes and the audience informed with her play-by-play sportscasting of the event. Sutton called each player forward, along with the player next on deck, announced the results of each throw in real time, and presented the awards to the top three in each category.
“I love this event. It’s somewhat serious and somewhat playful and anyone can participate,” said Sutton. “It’s so much fun.”
First to line up were the six contestants in the five-to-10-year-olds category. One at a time, each kid advanced to the spray-painted orange line, six-inch skillet in hand and took a throw. Groans, cheers, shirks, smiles, raised eyeballs and determined faces were the order of the day.
After the regulation two rounds of throws the winners were:
•  First place, Ava Mullin of Addison, at 34 feet, 6 inches.
•  Second place, Isaac (no last name given) from Marstons Mills, Mass., at 24 feet even.
•  Third place, Helen Curran of Whiting, at 21 feet, 11 inches.
“It was good,” said Beck Saville of Orwell, a first-time contestant, who took part in the event along with his older sister Neve.
After the winners claimed their ribbons, Beck’s three-year-old brother, Penn, took an exhibition round to loud applause.
Twenty-one contestants lined up for the 11-to-17-year-olds class.
Lydia Deppman of Cornwall, whose winning skillet toss was 46 feet, 3 inches, had competed earlier in the day in the caber toss — in which participants chucked a telephone-pole-like post. Other top finishers in the 11-17 skillet toss were Elizabeth Farnham (second at 46 feet) and David Curran of Whiting (third at 44 feet, 3 inches).
One contestant explained her throwing style directly:
“I just tried to throw it really hard. I kind of tried for the middle of the arc, I guess.”
She had a history in the competition:
“My mother made me do it once. I got 10 feet then, but I did better this time.”
Rules tightened and the bar was lifted for the 18-and-up category. The regulation skillet size shifted from six to 10 inches. And foot faults (stepping over the orange line) immediately disqualified a throw. Wibs McCain came in as line judge to watch for foot faults. Field judges Jack and Benj Deppman stepped further out into the field in preparation for more powerful throws.
A tense moment came when after just a few contestants the handle broke off the competition’s sole 10-inch iron skillet. Deppman and Deppman conferred and proclaimed that the entire round would start over using a six-inch skillet. Thankfully, despite repeated high, long and brutal throws, the six-inch skillet lasted the full adult round intact.
The crowd stepped up its game for the adult round as well, punctuating the competition with chants for local favorites.
One contestant was cheered on with the cry, “Go mom! Go mommy go!”
The loudest chants came from supporters of the camp counselors, who congregated beyond the pitch under the shade of the sole tree in the vicinity.
Contestants varied in approach and throwing style. The throws must be underhand. Many rocked back and forth. A few walked into their throws, almost like a professional softball pitcher. Some threw long and low. Some arced high into the sky, still covering a good distance. Most faced off the pitch with looks of intense concentration. Some smiled and focused on just having a good time.
After the results were tallied, the Curran family proved to be a powerhouse.
Ladies’ 18-and-up winner was Rose Curran of Whiting, at 60 feet, 1 inch. Third place went to her sister Lillian Curran (54 feet, 10 inches). Second place went to Camp Sangamore counselor Rhyanna Martinassen, who happened to be an Australia citizen.
Curran siblings David and Helen (as noted above) placed in the 11-to-17 and 5-10-year-olds categories.
Interviewed after her victory, Rose Curran said she has been competing in the Ladies’ Iron Skillet Toss for four years and has won two years in a row. The 20-year-old said she had been home schooled and that the family played soccer and other sports.
Asked what she liked most about the skillet toss, Curran replied: “I like the competition. And also it’s so unique.”
Reflecting on the event after the field had been cleared and the crowd moved on, Sutton noted that one of her favorite things about being a Field Days board member is organizing events like the skillet toss that are fun for kids and adults alike.
The Weybridge native, now in her second year on the board, is a long-time Field Days volunteer. And she’s been a Field Days fan and attendee all her life.
“I just love this fair,” said Sutton, who grew up about a mile and a half from the New Haven fairgrounds.
“We lived so close, we could ride our horses here,” she said. “And we would ride in the 4-H show.”
Reporter Gaen Murphree is at [email protected].

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