excuse me, but is that your head i see between my legs?

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Hicks of Old and New …

Welcome to the Singleton 2009 Annual Country Fest and the Australian National Titles of the Wife Carrying Competition.

And I’ll be your host, sponsored by Finnair. The Finnish way to fly. Which means you might get to here you’re going and slightly crazed by the end. You might even end up there completely stoushed on vodka and nude as the day you were born with the remnants of birch twigs being beaten over your entire body, but hey, you just know that you want it.

A breezy sunny day of about 24 degrees Celsius (no translation for those of you still stuck in the middle ages of Fahrenheit)  saw a right turn out. Not enough to break the world’s longest conga line which still remains standing at 1041 people. A poor showing saw Singleton’s name remain out of the tomes of history.

Utes of Glory lined the entrance way, coloured and adorned in the traditional and native flags of Ford, Holden and Chrysler. These natives of the land of Ute squatted in quite composure, the golden amber fluid on hand, in front of their on-road shrines, waiting the time that they could muster around the showground and carry the husband and wife couples to their hour of duty.

Next it was on to the warm up act of Finnish Traditional dancing, or as named by local Neil White, So You Think You Can Dance Fattie! Grandmas, Mummies Boys and the uncoordinated festooned the stage inside the Singleton Domed Pavilion. These dancers kicked up a dust storm on the unpolished floor boards. Critic and Estonian-challenged Maria Liiv likened the event to the 1943 Invasion of Tallinn by Soviet Forces, so appalled was she by the Ruski invasion of Finnish finesse. Fortunately the traditional dancing in Estonia is pure and untainted, and they use white hankies rather than red to boot!

The main stage rolled by with the Australian National Titles of the Wife Carrying Competition. Many and man and bride entered.

For those unfamiliar with “Wife Carrying” let me explain. The entrants – being one man and one woman (yes, apologies to those couples of different life choice) – are required to traverse a 240 metre course of obstacles that include hurdles, limbo poles and a water course of about 1.4 meters in depth. The male entrant is required to carry his bride throughout the course. A five second penalty is applied if the bride finds herself arse first colliding with the ground. In more traditional times, and to spur the men into participation, the winner of the competition would win his bride’s weight in beer. A minimum weight of 45kgs for the bride is mandatory.

Two men enter, one man leave … that is to say, twenty four couples entered, six got scratched over marital domestics, and the remaining eighteen tried their best. In their matching svelteness of red tank tops, Crackers Horne and Emma made a hearty effort to lead most of the field on a record 1 minutes and 20 seconds. But then it was up to the reigning champion of three years running, Parto (Anthony Partridge) and Catho (Cathy Weldon) to maybe come up with the goods. They had style, they had grace, and Parto shoved Catho’s pubis with gusto into the back of his neck and she hung on tight in the traditional “Estonian Hold” in to what will be henceforth known as the Parto Manoeuvred Estonian Hold. He was a leaping gazelle to her clinging three toed sloth. As he sashayed around the stadium in sporty lycra, the audience sat with butt cheeks clenched in anticipation of perhaps a personal best time being made. We all knew it was to be a tight race. The three years of titles became four with a lightning speed effort of 1 minute 18 seconds. Crackers and Emma were crushed and forlorn. The two tickets to Finland to compete for the international title of the Wife Carrying Competition (currently held by Estonians Alar Voogla and Kirsti Viltrop) were not to be theirs. One just hopes that that over 6’2” that Parto enjoys his 18 hours back there in economy.

We laughed, we cried, we ate sausage sizzle and dagwood dogs, and we walked out the exit.

This is Troy David Johnston … keeping his eye on the prize.

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