NEWRY, Maine -- Wives, sweethearts, partners, it's time to lay off the cakes, candy and caramel frappucini. Because on Monday, worldwide, and Maine, interest will be focused on your weight.
Registration for the 15th Annual North American Wife Carrying Championship at 11 a.m. on August 4 takes place in Newry. All the contestants who make it will be able to compete in the Sunday River Resort's most anticipated and popular event, on October 11. The Championship is part of the resort's Fall Festival Weekend, and among other prizes, the winner receives the equivalent of his wife's weight in beer and five times her weight in cash.
For this event, most couples use the traditional Estonian carry, in which the woman's thighs rest upon the man's shoulders in an upside-down piggyback fashion. Some couples use a fireman's carry, or an actual piggyback. To date, all former champions, both at the North American and World events, have used the Estonian carry.Men carry their female partners on their backs in any way they can, with the most popular being her hanging upside down with her legs over his shoulders.
Believe it or not, this activity did not originate in America. It was started long ago in Sonkajarvi, Finland, and has deep roots in Finnish and Estonian history and is based on a brigand named Rosvo-Ronkainen, who only accepted men capable of proving their worth and strength. In those days, a common practice was stealing women from the neighboring villages and running through a rigorous course.
Fifty couples will compete in the Maine event, which takes place on a mountainside and features obstacles. Sunday River's course obstacles range from log hurdles and sand traps to a manmade pond, also known as the "widow maker." Former world, state and regional champions who are pre-registered come to Maine for this event, so there are only so many spots for new registrants.
After all 50 couples compete, the two couples with the fastest times then race against one another for the championship title and prizes.
The weekend festival includes live music, food tables, a craft fair and kids' activities.
Women do not have to be wives of the men, but both participants must be of legal drinking age.
Today, most "wives actually volunteer their and their husbands' services for the event.
For more information, visit sundayriver.com or wife-carrying.org.