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  • Karen Cummings

Spring Shampagne Stampede

Those of us who have lived in Mt. Washington Valley for many decades remember (or cannot forget) the Spring Shampagne Stampedes held annually for -- does anyone know how long?

It was a scavenger hunt held as ski season wound down, devised by Mountain Ear publisher Steve Eastman with help from designer Lydia Lansing, WMWV radio personality George Cleveland, and Horsefeathers entrepreneur Ben Williams to name a few of the masterminds behind it. Participating teams, either from businesses or groups, were able to win by their costumes or by being the first to solve all the clues and find the case of champagne. Never could it be done now with the Valley as busy as it is so here are the photos from the 1984 picture spread of the event, which my team happened to win, to remember those incredibly crazy good old days.

--Karen Cummings

Always one of the more spirited businesses in the Valley when it comes to having a good time, the Oxen Yoke once again outdid even itself with their chicken outfits (left), which were deemed worthy of first place in the costume category by a panel of Stampede judges.

The intense competitiveness of the respective teams competing in the annual hunt for the hidden case of champagne was evident on the faces of the participants as they received final instructions at the start of the event at Lyman's (2nd from top, above).

Cathy Cooper and Ken Turner (yes, that's him on the right, right photo) of the Barnaby's Spring Shampagne Stampede team drew the most laughs Wednesday with their shouts of the now classic advertising line, "Where's the Beef? Where's the Beef!"

Meanwhile, the Boy Gary of Crud Club (left photo) wasn't shy at all as he waved to passersby on Main Street, much to the chagrin of one officer. The eventual winners -- Team Penguin (below) -- were all smiles as they boarded the Arrive in Style limousine for the ride to the awards party after the event at Legion Post 95.

(Above) Heidi Dunn and her Daisy's teammates study a difficult clue while a B-a-a-a-a-d sheep from the Fox Ridge team ponders another mind bender during Wednesday's action. To the tunes of "Beat It!" and "Billie Jean," Patti Wasserman and the rest of the Horsefeathers Michael Jackson clones (very top photo) boogied their way through town, while Elvio and the rest of his pizza men (below) wondered if they were going to get a piece of the action.

Proving that they had speed in addition to brains and good looks, the Penguin team of Annette McRitchie-Dean, Clarissa Holmes, and Karen Cummings (right) displayed their winning form after finding the bubbly at Synergy Natural Foods in North Conway.

Victory was celebrated with everyone at the American Legion Post 95. Held for the benefit of Memorial Hospital, the annual cure for mud seaton blues was sponsored by the Mountain Ear, Horsefeathers, and Country Squire Real Estate. Thirty-three teams competed in all.

(Rob Burbank/Mountain Ear Photos)

Resort Report Excerpt

The Great Rubber Band delivered on their promise to really rock out at Wednesday's post-stampede party at the Legion. It's been a while since the locals turned it on out on the dance floor like that... Joining the band for a few numbers was Rod MacKenzie, who gave spirited versions of a number of songs, including Marshall Tucker's "Can't You See." Most could, although by that point, perhaps not entirely in focus... The dancing was the perfect way to wrap up what turned out to be one of the most enjoyable Stampedes ever. Judging from how quiet it was around town late Wednesday night, you could say that everyone stampeded themselves out... The day started out eventfully enough with a grand parade from Country Squire Real Estate to the Stampede kickoff at Lyman's... Under the watchful eye of a state Department of Safety official who appeared to be somewhat confused about what to make of the spectacle, the members of the 33 creatively attired teams literally stopped traffic with their zany outfits as they made their way down Main Street in the annual bound for the hidden case of bubbly...

"Roll up the windows and lock the doors, Margaret; that Boy Gary's coming at us," seemed to be gasp of the day from motorists passing by the Hogs team of Boy Gary (Sheldon) and Crud Club... Gary's outfit was matched in outrageousness by those of other teams, including: the Darby Field Inn's impersonation of the Route 16 Bypass; the Dansk Honey Bees, Cheney North's Builders, Ted Wroblewski and the rest of the Bernerhoff dressed up as kites (with spares handed out to spectators); the B-a-a-a-a-d Sheep of the Fox Ridge Resort; Patti Wasserman and the rest of the Horsefeathers crew street dancing to "Beat It" as Michael Jackson clones; and the Christmas Farm Inn team, led by Danny Del Rossi as yet another Jackson look-alike..,. Other creative teams included: the WMNB's Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls; Montana's M&Ms; the Scottish Lion Butterflies, the Importech Animals led by Leo Rossignol, the Mountain Mama Mt. Mice-Sters, North Country Fair Good Sports, EMS Blues Brothers, the Red Jacket Hang-ups (captained by Andrea Pevarnek, who made the most of the day by celebrating her birthday as well), Daisy's Clowns, the Carriage Inn Cards, and the Memorial Hospital Easter Bunnies... Winning costume honors from the impartial panel of judges were: 1) The Dirty Birds from the Oxen Yoke; 2) the Barnaby's team of old women led by Ken Turner, all asking "Where's the Beef?"; while 3) was the Jack Frost Jack in the Boxes...

One hour and 20 minutes after it had started, the Stampede came to a triumphant close when the Penquin team got the final clue (Adam & Eve Outlet--Synergy Natural Foods) and found the hidden case of champagne at the North Conway store. The victory was a sweet one for the contingent, as many of its members (Rick Luksza, Annette McRitchie Dean, and Clarissa Holmes), had been been members of the Team Rico that had won the first Stampede four years ago. Dressed as ladies of the night and their male procurers, the team was also comprised of Tom Dean and Karen Cummings... Hats off to the sponsors of the event and to all the teams and local businesses who helped show that, if nothing else, the Valley is a true community. What a party!

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