BERLIN — When Jeffery Auxer walked into the Globe last month and began trash talking with Greg David about which of them would emerge victorious at the end of the Bathtub Races, he sparked what has become a heated rivalry.
Although he was eventually eliminated, David bested Auxer in the bracket rounds of the race and has yet to let the local artist forget it.
“Well, I had a real bathtub,” Auxer said as way of explanation, and it was true. His tub was likely the heaviest of the contraptions in the entire competition. But standing at a pre-pie eating contest press conference at Baked Dessert Cafe and Gallery, he didn’t have a lot of pro-authentic-tub friends in the room.
For his part, David has begun a strict gum chewing regimen that he believes will keep his jaws from locking up on him as the contest goes on. He also has advice from a former peach pie eating contest champ that he said could seal his victory.
“Don’t get your nose in the pie,” he said he was told. “You’ll suffocate.”
Auxer said that while he expects to win, he is gunning for a particular competitor.
“The whole thing is beating Greg or the Globe … whatever he’s calling it,” he said. “There is one purpose — beat Greg.”
The two squared off as part of a promotional event aimed at heightening the tension as the Third Annual Berlin Peach Festival begins to get under way. Each year one of the highlights has been the pie-eating contest but, as with the bathtub races, there hasn’t been the kind of compelling story line that forces people to choose sides.
Inaugurated in 2009 with the expectation of it being a relatively small affair, the Peach Festival has become the not-to-be-missed August event, bringing locals and tourists alike out in the thousands for a day of old-timey fun and entertainment.
As the number of attendees has grown, the Berlin Heritage Foundation, which sponsors the event, has increased the amount of diversions and activities available not only to keep people occupied and coming back, but also to keep the festival from becoming stale.
Among the other highly anticipated new events is the Peach haiku contest. Since there is really no point in judging haiku on aesthetic merits, it is the one contest everyone can win. Haiku is a Japanese style poem that traditionally has three short lines with the first containing five syllables, the second containing seven syllables and the third containing five syllables.
People who submit their haiku and are willing to read it onstage will have their efforts rewarded a peach.
The Berlin Peach Festival is noon-6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14 on the Taylor House Museum property on North Main Street. For a complete schedule and description of events see this week’s Bayside Gazette.