ELLSWORTH — The biggest competition in town over the weekend was held not on a field, in a gym or on a track. Instead, it took place inside a much more unusual setting just a stone’s throw from downtown.
If there was even space to move anywhere from the bar area to the tables and chairs that line Fogtown Brewing’s inside area, it wasn’t easy to find. While some patrons stood shoulder to shoulder, others stood outside as they pressed their faces against the glass window.
Wall-to-wall crowds aren’t an everyday occurrence at Fogtown and other area restaurants on ordinary winter days, but this was no ordinary or everyday occasion. Atlantic Brewing’s Adam Whitcomb said it best: The crowd was waiting to see some of the strongest women around compete for “the boots, the beer and the glory.”
Thirty-two local women and dozens of intrigued spectators descended on Fogtown Brewing on Saturday for the Pink Boots Society Women’s Arm Wrestling Championships. Proceeds from the event, which was hosted by Fogtown and Atlantic Brewing Co., went toward Pink Boots, an organization that assists women in the brewing industry.
“We were hoping for this turnout, but I don’t think we actually expected it,” said Atlantic Brewing Marketing Coordinator Allie Sasner. “A lot more arm wrestlers were interested than we thought there would be. With us getting 32, we had the perfect number for the bracket we wanted.”
The tournament pitted contestants against one another in best-of-three matches with winners advancing to the next round. Contestants had the option of choosing nicknames or using their given names, though most elected to do the former.
After two rounds, three title contenders began to emerge: Molly “Smores” Friedland, Sarah “Moxie” Holbrook and Camalyne “Strong Girl” Mondragon. The championship match between Moxie and Strong Girl needed all rounds and ended with Mondragon claiming the victory.
“We’ve had this in the works for a few months now and have really been looking forward to it for a long time,” said Whitcomb, a cellerman at Atlantic. “We’ve all been working hard to make sure that we got the word out and got everything prepared and ready in time, and it all came to be because of the women within this industry.”
The impetus for the tournament, Sasner said, came from the Pink Boots Society’s Boston chapter. That group has been holding arm wrestling events in Massachusetts for years, and after its latest competition was held in late July, it reached out to its counterpart in Maine.
“We’re planning a head-to-head competition with each other at some point, but we wanted to put on something like this locally first,” Sasner said. “We don’t have a date or anything for that set, but that’s where the idea came from.”
Fogtown and Atlantic combined with Strong Brewing Co. of Sedgwick and seven other Maine brewing companies to collaborate on a special beer for the event. The resulting beverage, the Shoulder Roll Stout, was brewed solely by women.
The first-, second-, third- and fourth-place finishers took home prizes that included glasses, mugs and gift cards from Fogtown and Atlantic. The real prize, though, was the shiny trophy, which Mondragon hoisted with her championship-winning arm after her victory.
Whitcomb, the master of ceremonies for the event, brought the entertainment to a new level. Dressed to the nines with a pink coat, white dress shirt and a black bowtie and pair of dress pants, his booming voice captivated the audience with every torque, twist and slam of the arm.
“It’s about the fun of it, bringing people together and getting everyone out for a good cause,” Whitcomb said. “People got to talking about it, and we got everything from a bus that brought 8-10 women here to people lining up to watch outside. It was better than any of us even imagined.”