Published Date Written by Tom EastmanSteve Eastman (1949-2008), who was Mud Bowl chair at the time, had a fun idea back in 1981. Just as California's Rose Bowl had its “Tournament of Roses Parade” every New Year's Day, my ever-creative and always-thinking older brother and MWV Hogs co-founder believed that North Conway's Mud Bowl ought to have its own “Tournament of Mud” parade.
It would complement Mud Bowl's goal of entertaining people.
A highlight that first year was the appearance of Maine's blue-ribbon winning, 650-pound hog, Jimmy Dean, who was accompanied by his hefty, coveralled, farmer owner, Orin.
It's been a fall hit ever since, other than one year (2007) when the parade was not held due to road reconstruction on North Conway's Main Street.
Over the years, parade themes have included “Muddy Gras,” “Club Mud,” “Shootout at the OK Corral,” “2001: A Mud Odyssey,” “Mudstock,” “Viva Mud Vegas,” and “Muddywood,” and last year's, “TV Com-muddies,” to name a few.
This year's theme is “Mud Bowl, The Musical.” The parade will proceed down North Conway's Main Street from the John Fuller Elementary School to Schouler Park at 10 a.m.
The always-entertaining procession is sponsored by Mud Bowl's overall sponsor, Amoskeag Beverages of Bow, with both an Open and a Team Class.
Floats will be entered by the teams for the team class, and by the community in the open class.
The following themes have been chosen by the teams: 11-time champion (but not since 1992) Mount Washington Valley Hogs, “Rock of Ages;” The Crocs, “Annie;” Mudsharks (they've got a bye this year from the parade in a raffle drawing that raised $352 for charities so they have opted not to have an entry); Rats, “Mudlahoma,” Gumbys, “Spamalot;” Predators, “Blue (Mud) Man Group; Mudcats, “Wizard of Mud;” Mud Ducks, “Grease,” Muckaneers, “Fame,” Muddas, 18-time champion Muddas, “West Side Story,” and Mudbassadors, “Singing in the Rain.”
Fittingly, this weekend after the two national political conventions, and on the eve of Tuesday's primary elections, the parade will feature entries by local political representatives.
“We've got entries in the open class from both the Democrats and Republicans. The MWV Republicans had entered, so I wanted to be fair and called the Democrats, so both parties will be represented,” said parade chair Bobbi Steele-Marotta.
(Democrats, brace yourself: The MWV Republicans have been making some waves with their July 4 political slogan, “Save America: “Vote Republican.” Hey, politics, like mud football, is a dirty game, after all ....)
Steele-Marotta said other entries include the MWV Band, Imari and the Sahara Dessert Dancers (always a highlight) of Bridgton, Maine; the Kennett High Dance Team, the Kennett High cheerleaders, and perhaps the KHS Drum Line. Habitat for Humanity and the Gibson Center are teaming up for floats as well, according to Steele-Marotta.
Honoring the Schneiders
Serving as grand marshals are members of the Schneider family in honor of the family's longtime contributions to the community and skiing at Cranmore Mountain Resort, which this year is celebrating its 75th anniversary season.
Hannes (1890-1955) and son Herbert (1920-2012) left their mark. Riding in the two lead cars will be Herbert and the late Doris Schneider's sons Hannes, 45, and Christoph, 44. Hannes will be joined by his sons, Hannes, 15, and Markus, 13, and by Hannes' girlfriend Amy Capone. In the other lead car will be Christoph and his fiancee, Hannah Sullivan, who helped to provide care to Herbert in his final years.)
Hogs Hall of Famer/former Cranmore ski school instructor Phil Haynes, Cranmore Snowsports School director Karen Dolan and former Cranmore general manager Marilyn Miller of the recently-formed “Honor Herbert” committee are working to create a memorial statue at Cranmore as a memorial to Herbert Schneider, just as a statue was created in 1989 in honor of Hannes Schneider. For further information, call Dolan at 356-5543.
Muddy vows to be renewed
A special highlight this year will be the wedding vow renewal ceremony between Games 7 and 8 at approximately 1 p.m. Saturday by former Muddas head cheerleader Wendy Mace and Muddas Mud Bowl Hall of Famer Bill Phillips. The Muddas couple were married in a memorable mud matrimony ceremony at Hog Coliseum in 1992, attired in western gear.
The Mud Bowl Ball will be held at Hillbilly's Saturday night. It's open to the public.
40 years of muddy history
The other milestone being observed this 36th year of Mud Bowl being played in North Conway is the 40th anniversary of the first organized Mud Bowl.
According to muddy legend, the sport was first played in a muddy field behind a University of Maine at Orono fraternity house between brothers and alumni.
Some of those players gravitated to the ski resort town of Sugarloaf, USA. Dale Rolfe created the first organized mud football league in Kingfield in fall 1972, featuring teams from ski towns throughout northern New England.
Mount Washington Valley got involved in 1975. That was the year that former Sugarloaf Irregular editor and then valley resident Steve Eastman was asked to form a team and bring it up to Kingfield to play in the Mud Bowl. Eastman and co-founder Richard DeAngelis founded the MWV Hogs. They traveled the three hours to Sugarloaf, and defeated the Rats, 6-0.
In those days, the team that won the tourney got to host it the following year, so the Mud Bowl came to Katie Aguerre's cornfield off West Side Road in 1976. A hat was passed around at halftime to raise funds for the chosen non-profit, the North Conway Community Center.
The Hogs won again from 1976 to 1978, so Mud Bowl quickly became a local fall tradition, smaller than the Volvo of mid-summer and the Fryeburg Fair of foliage season, but colorful indeed.
It not only was entertaining, but it helped to extend the summer season one week beyond Labor Day, according to longtime former Mud Bowl co-chair and Hogs Hall of Famer Gary “Hog of Steel” Sheldon.
The Hogs lost in overtime at Cranmore to the New York Hamslammers in 1979, forcing them to travel eight hours to upper New York State in 1980. The Hogs defeated the Hamslammers 8-7, bringing home the bacon.
Co-chair Eastman, not wanting to lose the event's local following, came up with an idea to host an event in the valley, regardless of the official Mud Bowl being played that year in New York— the Mud Bowl Olympics. Played at the base of Mount Cranmore a week after the Hogs' Mud Bowl victory in New York, it saw the introduction of the now dynastic Muddas, who pummeled the Hogs.
Despite that defeat, there were many pluses. Television's “Real People” filmed the games, and suddenly, Mud Bowl was on the map. Newspaper and magazine stories followed.
Momentum continued. In 1981, in addition to the first Tournament of Mud Parade, Hog Coliseum was built. The Hogs won again in 1981 and 1982, but lost to the Muddas in 1983. In 1983, however, teams decided that no matter who won, the games henceforth would be held in North Conway — the reasoning being that the valley had the world's best mud football stadium, along with all of the resort area's other amenities, so why go anywhere else?
As of 2012, heading into this weekend's action, the Muddas have won 18 titles (not counting that 1980 Mud Olympics victory); the Hogs 11 (but not since 1992); the Nashua Gumbys five (including in 2011, when they downed the Muddas 12-10), and one each for the Merrimack Mudcats (2001), the North Shore Mudsharks (2005) and the no longer playing N.Y. Hamslammers (1979).
Daily admission to the Mud Bowl is $6 for adults (14 and older); $4 for children (ages 6-13); and free for ages 5 and under. Three-day tickets are $10 at the gate. A family pass (two adults, two children) is available for $15.
Mud Bowl fans will have two chances to win one of two $500 drawings, to be held Saturday, Sept. 8, and Sunday, Sept. 9. Three-day tickets serve as raffle entry tickets. One need not be present to win. Three-day tickets cost $10. A 50-50 raffle will be held Sunday.
Tickets are available in advance at the Met Coffeehouse, North Conway Community Center, North Conway Day Care, North Conway Hannaford, and the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce.
For further information about Mud Bowl, call Jackie Howe at 356-5213 or the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-367-3364. Souvenir Mud Bowl programs have also been circulated throughout the valley and will be available at the games.
Follow Mud Bowl on the Conway Daily Sun's Facebook page, or visit www.northconwaycommunitycenter.org and click on Mud Bowl. Or, visit leaguelineup/mudbowlnh.