Steamboat Springs Aeriferous, appoggiatura, banausic and daguerreotype may have stumped all 33 participants of the annual Community Spelling Bee, but it was the defending champions who trumped the competition with the word demurrage.
“Spelling is a dying art,” said Pauline Bouchard, member of the spelling team 3 No Trump that took home top honors again in the second year of the competition. “We’re trying to cultivate interest in the younger kids.”
Sponsored by the Routt County Council on Aging, the city of Steamboat Springs, the Over The Hill Gang, Bud Werner Memorial Library and the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, the event served as a fundraiser for local senior programs and a friend-raiser for community members.
This year was buzzing with differences from last year’s event: There were bee costumes, an updated format, more participants, more spectators and even a spell-off after the judges determined that “crenellation” could be spelled with one or two L’s.
Laura Schmidt, executive director of the Council on Aging, said the organization brought back the fundraiser and social event for a second year because it was enjoyable the first time around.
But this year, the format was tweaked so that every team spelled every word, versus each team getting their own word in succession.
Each team spelled out each word on a whiteboard and if all the teams got the word wrong, Bud Romberg, the reader clad in a beekeeper costume, went on to the next word. If anyone spelled the word correctly, whichever teams spelled it wrong were eliminated. The winner of each of the three rounds faced off in a three-team final that included 3 No Trump, the City Council team and the Spellin’ Fellas.
Even though they didn’t win, Zach Schmidt, 17, of the Spellin’ Fellas said it was a worthwhile experience to try with his father, Mike Schmidt.
“I really just enjoyed it,” Schmidt said. “It’s always good to come to the senior center and meet new seniors.”
Each team had to include at least one member older than 60 as a way to encourage an intergenerational exchange.
On the Schmidts’ team was Gene Cook, who said the spelling bee was a chance to reach into his memory bank to concepts he learned 80 years ago.
At 89, Cook was 83 years older than the youngest competitor, 6-year-old Sophie Rasmussen.
Team members dressed up for the occasion, wearing letters, matching T-shirts, “geek” costumes and odd hats.
The team with the costume deemed the most creative by the judges won bottles of honey, and 3 No Trump earned dictionaries for their win. But Penny Deihl wasn’t in it for the prizes.
“I enjoyed just being here and watching the people have a good time,” Deihl said.
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com