Edgington reclaims Garrard County tobacco cutting title

August 29, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER - Alan "Peanut" Edgington said he woke up Thursday feeling sick. But it didn't seem to matter because the longtime winner of the annual "championship of burley tobacco cutting/Garrard County Tobacco Cutting Contest" reclaimed his throne Thursday after losing last year's match to newcomer Jesse Gomez.

"I like it," said Edgington, looking sweaty, hot and tired after claiming his sixth trophy in nine years, the winner's plaque and a check for $500.

Edgington said he also was sick last year when he lost to Gomez. "I was just ready (this year)," he said. "I was wanting to get it to the end." He said he spent more time preparing for the contest this year. "When I start, I cut as hard as I can before the contest. I'll probably lag off after the contest."

Edgington got a good start this year, sprinting ahead by at least 10 stalks at the beginning of the competition and he finished his two rows on the 1 1/2-acre plot in 44 minutes and 28 seconds. The contest is not only just based on time, as the winner is determined by a formula of the number of stalks cut, the time it takes to cut two rows with points deducted by "split out" stalks and stalks left standing.


Edgington finished with a total of 41 points. Alvin Stamper finished in 45 minutes, 4 seconds and came in second with a points total of 40.67. Jesse Gomez claimed the third place honor and Freddie West and Juan Carlos Martinez finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Edgington and many of the other cutters live in Garrard County, Stamper and Roy Golie are from London, West lives in Lincoln County and Gomez and Martinez call Mexico their permanent home.

Daniel Edgington, nephew of this year's champ, earned the "Rookie of the Year" honor. "It's tougher than I thought it would be," said Daniel Edgington, who's been cutting tobacco since he was 8. Daniel is James Gilbert Edgington's son, who won the contest in 2000 after several years of barely losing to his brother, Peanut.

Golie was named "Rookie of The Year Runner Up."

A field of nine cutters competed at Kent Wall's Hamm Hill Farm on Ky. 1355 in the contest which was sponsored by dozens of businesses and coordinated by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Several hundred attended, which in year's past has drawn about 1,000 spectators. UK Extension Agent for Agriculture Mike Carter expected the crowd to be down. "Because of the heat," he said.

Carter said he had no idea the contest would develop into the popular event that it is today. "We were anxious to do something unique in the county back in the early 80's to celebrate our tobacco heritage," Carter said. "We mulled over several ideas and decided to have this contest and invite the world, as far as competitors and spectators."

In years past the contest has served as the unofficial start of the Garrard County Tobacco Festival. But now, those planning the contest have to work with the grower of the crop where the competition is to take place to ensure their crop is ready to be cut.

This year's tobacco festival starts Sept. 5 in downtown Lancaster.

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