Bad breath, sweet victory at onion eating contest

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter



WHITETOP — It's highly unlikely that any of the winners of an eating contest at the annual Whitetop Mountain Ramp Festival got a kiss after their victory.
The wild onion eating competition results in pungent breath that could peel paint.
It's a good thing that the top prizes all come with a bottle of mouthwash, in addition to cash.
Taking home the big bottle of Scope at this year's event on May 15 was a kilt-clad contender with a stomach of iron — defending champ Toby Shutters.


The annual festival is held on the grounds of the Mount Rogers Volunteer Fire Department in Whitetop, and is a fundraiser for the department. It includes arts and crafts, old-time and bluegrass music and food —some of which includes ramps, a savory wild plant in the onion family.
They're delicious when cooked, but hard to choke down raw and in the large numbers the contest requires.
Shutters ate 50 in three minutes, hunched forward like most contestants and cramming his face with handfuls of ramps.
Robert Hawks of Surry County, N.C., chomped 17 ramps in one minute to win the kids' competition.