Ready! Set! Eat KRAUT!

HENDERSON – What a sunny final day for Sauerkraut Days in Henderson on Sunday!

After the storm on Saturday, the locals were finally lucky with the weather.

Following the Grande Parade at noon, the Sauerkraut eating contest started at 3 p.m. The outbound New Ulm Sister Cities Hans Joohs Exchangee Lauren Luffey participated as only woman.

Right before every contestant was introduced to the crowd and asked about their winning strategy, the Kraut Krew piled up two pounds of steaming, hot, fermented cabbage on eight paper plates.

Luffey entered the packed beer tent and stage with the song “Cotton Eyed Joe,” saying her only goal was to look good.

“I already ate a bowl of sauerkraut when I got here. Then I asked one of the crew members if I could get a free T-shirt. He told me if I entered the contest, I would,” Luffey said.

And so she did. As the only female among seven more or less big guys, she certainly cut the best figure.

After the judges explained the rules, the competitors had 30 seconds to prepare their kraut. They squeezed the juice out, kneaded it and piled it up again.

After saying a funny little prayer – because people in Henderson never start eating without praying before indulging – the contest started.

Everybody just shoveled and squashed the cabbage into their faces. An amusing sight. One contestant had to stop because he could barely keep the kraut in his mouth.

When Luffey realized she would not be able to finish her plate, she started coaching the competitor to her left, Rick Oestreich of Eagan.

“Give me three more big bites and you’ll be done,” she yelled.

And it worked.

Oestreich actually was the first contestant to finish and shout out “Let’s get krauty!” after a bit more than four minutes. So he won the kraut trophy and a $100 gift certificate. He watched the contest about five years ago and came back to watch it this year. When he was asked to enter the competition, he instantly agreed.

“It was pretty hard because the sauerkraut was so warm. The first bites burnt my tongue,” Oestreich said. “I really did not expect to win this whole thing,” he added proudly.

Even though Luffey did not finish her serving of kraut, for being the only female in the contest, she won the title “Sauerkraut Eating Queen 2014.”

She might compete again in the upcoming sauerkraut eating contest in New Ulm during Bavarian Blast.

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