The Guinness World Record holder in cricket spitting made a surprise appearance at this weekend’s Spring Fest.
Spring Fest, a free event that showcases the lighter side of education, took over Memorial Mall and State Street this past weekend. Many departments took part in the festivities, including the colleges of Agriculture, Health and Human Sciences and Education. Attractions included an animal tent with baby chicks, ducklings, piglets, goats and two dairy cows that were available for milking. There were also numerous displays of dead bugs and a competition of entomology themed cakes.
A big part of Spring Fest is the Bug Bowl, which focuses on entomology. The main attraction, cricket spitting, has participants compete to see how far they can spit a dead, frozen cricket.
Dan Capps holds the Guinness World Record from his 1998 spit of 32’1.25”. After Capps won the second annual Cricket Spitting Championships here at Purdue with a spit of 37’2.5”, Bug Bowl co-founder and entomology professor Tom Turpin contacted Guinness. But Capps, ever the humble record-holder, says he’s still the same guy he was before he got his name in the Guinness Book of World Records.
“It hasn’t changed my life a bit. I have no Nike endorsements,” said Capps.
Many other aspiring cricket-spitters tried their luck at this year’s Bug Bowl Cricket Spitting Championships. Now in its 17th year, the competitors competed at Fabre Field, a green triangle set up in Memorial Mall. The field was named after French entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre who promoted science for women and lost his teaching license after allowing women in his classroom.
The announcer, Turpin, was decked out in a bug patterned top hat, tuxedo coat with bug patterned lapels and a butterfly bow-tie. Rambling off random entomology facts, he enticed contestants over to the cricket spitting field.
“Come compete for ribbons and bragging rights!” said Turpin.
The competition was divided into four divisions: junior women, junior men, senior women and senior men. Competitors chose between three food-grade crickets presented on a silver tray. The cricket had to be entirely inside the competitor’s mouth before they were allowed to step onto the circle at the end of the field. Then, competitors had 20 seconds to complete their spit. A cheering crowd loudly screamed “cricket” until the Cricket Spotter found the cricket.
One competitor, Becky Feld, an alumna of the College of Liberal Arts, made it into the finals in the senior women division. This was her second year competing. While she didn’t win in her division, Feld said she enjoyed competing because it was a fun activity to do with her dad.
A mother-daughter duo also tried cricket spitting for some family bonding. Juliana Lareaux was visiting her daughter, Sarah Lareaux, a student in the College of Engineering, for Alpha Phi’s Mom’s Day this weekend. Both women made it into the championships and Juliana took home first place in the senior women division with a spit of 14’11”.
While the Bug Bowl’s main attraction was cricket spitting, many other educational fun and games occurred all over Memorial Mall and State Street.
The “Bug Whisperer,” Tony Gustin, held an entomology presentation for children in Lilly Hall. Filled with funny stories and animated behavior, the show not only kept children entertained but taught them about several exotic bugs. However, Gustin said that his show is about more than just bugs. He hopes that his show will change kids’ perspective – helping them see bugs as more than just things to squash and stomp on.
“It’s not just about bugs. It’s about a respect for life,” said Gustin.
Gustin said he started doing shows as a joke. Over a few beers, he and his friends talked about how cool it’d be to get paid to talk about bugs – something they’d always found interesting. In just two years, Gustin’s show has grown from four schools to 25 schools, reaching about 50,000 students a year. He also produced and starred in an award-winning DVD entitled “Who Wants To Be An Entomologist?”
“My motto is to turn fear and malice into curiosity and respect,” said Gustin.