CROWN POINT | Willie Curtis said Saturday would be the last time he competed in the bean-spitting contest at the Lake County Fair.
That's no small announcement considering Curtis, a longtime Lowell resident who now lives in Roselawn, has won the competition 18 times.
Curtis, who said he has better things do, also holds the overall distance record at 64 feet 11 inches.
"It was a perfect spit," he said. "That one was crazy."
On hand to challenge him Saturday was longtime rival John Ols, of Schererville, who has taken part in the competition for more than 10 years with stepdaughter Heather Brooks, also of Schererville.
"Just put it in your mouth and blow as hard as you can," Ols said while warming up ahead of the Saturday's big event.
Ols was first up and sent one of the official northern beans flying 29 feet 5.5 inches.
None of the other adult competitors topped that distance until Curtis took his spot at the yellow board marking the launch site, reared his head back and spit a bean 29 feet 8.25 inches.
Curtis said it is important to keep the mouth well lubricated with water and to form the tongue into a U-shape to better propel the bean.
Third place in the adult class went to Hobart resident Bob Zatarski, who spit a bean 28 feet 8.5 inches.
Preceding the adult competitors were 15 young up and comers, who watched as 10-year-old Schererville resident Ryan McDaniel took top honors by sending a bean flying 16 feet 3 inches.
Unlike Curtis, McDaniel said he is a newcomer to the sport of bean spitting and had not even decided to take part in the competition until a day earlier, when he noticed it on the schedule while at the fair.
Second place in the youth competition went to Cedar Lake resident Dylan Ruszkiewicz, and third place went to Michael Castillo, of Hammond. Both youths won with a distance of 12 feet 4 inches, but Ruszkiewicz edged out his competitor by spitting further on the other of two allowed attempts.
Event coordinator Bob Van Slyke said his job is no cake walk.
"The hardest part of this is finding the bean when they spit," he said.