As co-owners of Twisted Crew Brewing Co. in Seymour, Terry Miller and Josh Lakins know a little bit about beer mugs.
When Lakins heard about the inaugural Seymour Oktoberfest Stein Hoist, the Hayden resident went online and registered. He then got Miller, who lives in Seymour, and some other friends to sign up, too.
Leading up to Saturday’s competition at the Oktoberfest Biergarten, they practiced a couple of times a week by timing each other holding a mug filled to the brim with beer, which weighs five pounds.
That paid off, as Miller held his mug up the longest of the 12 contestants and Lakins took third.
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At the end, it was down to Miller and Dan Ross of Seymour. After four minutes, Ross’ arm began to shake, and he couldn’t hold it up anymore.
Miller then lowered his glass before lifting it back up and chugging the beer.
“As soon as the other guy was called out, there was no reason for me to hurt my arm anymore,” Miller said.
Ross said he was fortunate to get the opportunity to compete because three weeks ago, he was in a coma with viral meningitis.
“I’ve came a long way since being in the hospital three weeks ago in a coma,” he said. “So (placing second) ain’t too bad. I think I’m back in business now. I’m doing all right.”
While sizing up the competition Saturday, Miller and Ross both said they didn’t expect to be one of the final two.
“There were a lot of big boys out here, but I guess that doesn’t matter in this type of competition,” Miller said.
“It looked like there were a lot of people that worked out. I don’t,” Ross said. “I was in here last night practicing drinking. That’s the only practice I had. I’ve held my share (of beer mugs), but I’ve never tried to see how long I could hold it.”
Emcee Josh Ratliff, judge Solomon Rust and the crowd encouraged the contestants, but Miller said he wound up tuning all of that out.
“In the beginning, you heard a lot of that stuff. At the beginning, when you’re fresh and rested, the mug doesn’t feel like it weighs a ton,” he said. “But after about two minutes, I kind of got to that point where I just deafened everything out.”
Miller said he was happy to see the large turnout at the new event, which was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, Spaten and Bartholomew County Beverage. Zach Clark, Ben Stahl and Cody Schwade had attended an Oktoberfest in Cincinnati, Ohio, a couple of years ago and thought it would be good to do at the Seymour festival.
“It was a great crowd, great support,” Miller said. “I was kind of shocked at how many people actually got involved and were rooting us on. It was awesome.”
When he signed up for the event, Miller said he didn’t expect to come out the winner and be taking home $300, a trophy, his mug and a lederhosen T-shirt that all contestants were given to wear.Thinking back on their practice sessions, Lakins said he expected to feel a little sore after the competition.“It really does hurt your shoulder,” he said. “Two days later, you really still feel it.”
Moments after the competition, Ross already was feeling the effects.
“My hands are still shaking now trying to hold this beer,” he said while holding a plastic cup of beer.
Ross said he was happy with his finish after competing in the brat-eating contest last year and placing third.
“After I did that, I was like, ‘I ain’t doing that again’ because it was a rough night after that. But with beer, I’ve been practicing this for a long time,” he said, laughing.
“It was really fun, and it seemed like all of the people in the beer garden loved it,” he said. “This seemed like a lot more fans were enthused than the brat-eating contest. People were up here hollering and stuff. Maybe it was because of the beer-drinking rowdy crowd. I’d say that had something to do with it.”
Miller and Lakins, who both have full-time jobs at Cummins Inc., are already excited about competing next year.
“I will definitely try to be back,” Miller said.
“We’re going to start practicing now for next year,” Lakins added.
Ross said he might give it another shot, too.
“I think I’ll practice before next year and sign up again, for sure,” he said. “I didn’t even know I was going to get a free T-shirt out of this deal, so I’m pretty happy about that, and I get a glass. I’ve got a drink, a free mug and a T-shirt, so I’m pretty happy about everything. It’s a win-win even if I didn’t win.”
Chris Herbert of Seymour also was among the competitors. A friend encouraged him to sign up, and then he got Ross on board.
“Somebody I know works for Bartholomew County Beverage, and she asked me if I would be interested in doing it, and I’m like, ‘All right. What do I have to lose?’” Herbert said.
He said he did a little bit of preparation.
“You have to drink beer and do a few pushups,” he said, laughing. “I had a roll of labels at my work that is about five pounds, and I would hold it, just for fun, nothing serious.”
Even though he didn’t win, Herbert said he had a good time.
“It’s different and fun. It’s something you’ve never done before, so why not do it?” he said. “I think the crowd, it gives them something to do besides sitting in here and drinking. It was fun seeing all of the people watching and rooting people on.”
Don’t forget the brats
A couple of hours later at Oktoberfest, the annual brat-eating contest, sponsored by Pepsi, Circle K and 96.3 WJAA, was conducted in front of the north stage.Ten contestants had 10 minutes to eat as many bratwursts as possible. Edward “Teddy” Delacruz took an early lead and held off a challenge by Brad Nacio, finishing with 17 brats to Nacio’s 14.Delacruz received $500 and a trophy, and another $250 was given to a charity of his choice, which was Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925 in Seymour.
The Wood Dale, Illinois, resident said he competed against a friend during last year’s Oktoberfest. They both ate 18 brats in 10 minutes and went through two eat-offs before calling a tie.
“I figured I could eat 20 if I had to,” Delacruz said of this year’s contest. “But when I was ahead, I was just like, ‘Whatever.’ Sometimes, I want to push it. This time, when I saw (Nacio) was speeding up, that’s why I sped up.”
His strategy involved taking a few bites of a bratwurst and then drinking water.
“That’s the only way I can get them down quickly,” he said. “If it was like the most you could eat in an hour, I wouldn’t drink as much. If I want to be faster, I’ve got to drink a lot.”
In the past year, Delacruz said he has competed in more than 50 eating contests.
“I didn’t discover this until last year,” he said. “I think I like it. They are very similar, and it forces you to push yourself.”
43rd annual Seymour Oktoberfest
Stein hoist: Terry Miller, first; Dan Ross, second; Josh Lakins, third
Brat-eating contest: Teddy Delacruz, first, 17 brats; Brad Nacio, second, 14 brats; Tony Franklin, third, 10 brats