Usually “spitting distance” is a general term that describes something that’s close by, but at the International Cherry Pit–Spitting Championship, it’s a precise measurement of a particular skill. While in most circles, firing cherry pits out of your mouth might be considered rude or gross, at this festival, it’s nothing to spit at.
The International Cherry Pit–Spitting Championship has been held at the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire, Michigan, every year since 1974. The decades-old championship entails pretty much what the name advertises: seeing which of the contestants in the competition can spit a cherry pit the farthest. The winner receives the honor of being the “international champ” (according to this competition, that is; there are other cherry pit–spitting contests that take place across the globe), and some prizes from local sponsors.
While it seems simple and fun enough, a number of surprisingly specific rules have been developed over the years to keep everything above board. According to the official Tree-Mendus website, no foreign objects can be held in the mouth that would aid in the spitting, cherries must be “regulation variety (Montmorency)” and chilled to between 55 and 60° F, hands must be kept below the shoulder line to avoid cheek-popping, and if a contestant swallows a pit, it is forfeited. The participants are even divvied up into different divisions, including youth sets and, for some reason, a women’s division, which doesn’t appear to have been introduced until 1977.
The winner of the most recent (as of this writing) International Cherry Pit–Spitting Championship, which took place on July 7, 2018, was 64-year-old returning champion Rick “Pellet Gun” Krause, who took the day with an impressive 41’ 8-3/4” spit. This marked Krause’s 18th world championship win. But the competition is open to any and all, so who knows who will come out of the (cherry)woodwork to win the crown next year.
Need to Know
The “spit-tacular” competition takes place every July. Check the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm's calendar of events for exact dates.
Where to Try It
Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm9351 E. Eureka Rd , Eau Claire, Michigan, 49111, United States
The home of the competition also features plenty of orchards for picking. July is cherry and apricot season.