Monday, February 02, 2009

A New Jersey Liar's Contest

Want to even the score? Sick and tired of used car salesmen, advertisers, politicians, car mechanics, lawyers, and money managers getting all the attention? Hey, how about those spammers and phishers, huh? And televangelists? Fed up with them too? Those are just some of the folks who, from time to time, polls tend to rate as big liars!

Well, here's your chance to get even. You can openly prevaricate in a genuine Liars Contest at the Stockton Inn, on Main Street, in Stockton NJ, on February 18, 2009! According to undisclosed, but solid sources, it is the one and only verifiable New Jersey liar's contest. Also being billed as a dead-of-winter "fibber's feux d'artifice" contestants need not be from New Jersey to participate. But live contestants only. Video submissions may be appreciated, but they will not be admitted in the contest. Currently elected public officials above the rank of dog catcher may receive a percentage discount to participate, but are certainly welcome to attend.

Show your glossy stuff. Be a momentary four-flusher!

And, you don't have to hurt or mislead anyone, or cheat them. Everyone there'll all know you're tellin' a big story! All in good fun.

You can just come to watch and have a few laughs, or spin a good whopper yourself at the Stockton Inn on Rt. 29 in Stockton, NJ this coming Wednesday evening, February 18th, and you could walk away with a title like "Best Damn Liar!" or a similar accolade. According to owner Fred Strackhouse, the fabricating fete will get started around 7:30 pm, and will go on as long as it takes. If it gets too good, or too close, there may have to be a fib-off! Who knows?

There will be a few fun categories, and even an inexpensive grand prize. Costumes and props are not permitted, but if you think it will help with your embellishment, or somehow add context to your pretext, feel free to wear some funny item. No extra points for fluff, though. Bring your own cheering section if you think it will help. It won't. You've just gotta tell a damn good whopper.

Each contestant will have about a 3 - 5 minute window, microphone in hand, to fishify away. And audience participation -- at least laughter and whistling-- will be permitted. Throwing objects, however, will be very firmly discouraged.

Now, you might think that no one ever held a liars' contest before. Not so! But apparently no official liar's contest takes place here in the the Garden State, so this one is it. Yes, the New Jersey Legislature does meet repeatedly during their two year sessions . . . whether they need to or not. But they just don't always call all of what they do by it's proper name.

A Short Survey of Liar's Contests:

It turns out that genuine liars contests are held all over the world but here in New Jersey . . . for example, how about the one billed as the Worlds Biggest Liars Contest across the pond in England? It was last held on Thursday night, November 21st (2008) in the bar of the Bridge Inn in Santon Bridge, off in the northwest corner of the island of England, located in the beautiful lake district and mountain region of Cumbria. And according to BBC reporter, Cory Allen, John "Johnny Liar" Graham again emerged as the World's Biggest Liar at this year's contest. They've been holding this contest for over 100 years!
The contest dates back to the 19th century, when Will Ritson (1808-1890), a Wasdale landlord, became well-known for his fibs.
The first woman to win the contest was only two years ago, when comedienne Sue Perkins won the title by telling a story about sheep who had punched a hole in the ozone layer with their flatulence.

Now, I hasten to add that these were BBC stories, and some may try try to say they might fib a bit themselves. But this year, they actually attached little video wigets from the contest itself, including the one of "Johnny Liar's" prize winning tale!

Right close to us here in the States, there's good information available (pdf) about a well-established Kutztown, PA liars contest.

Then there's a link dating a few years back about the annual Baca Grande (Big Cow), Colorado* liars contest, which apparently received an assist from large quantities of what was identified as "stumblejuice." The claim was that, at the contest:
[e]veryone was feeling no pain except a hound which went into a bramble so thick he had to back up to bark.
Or, how about the Statewide contest for storytellers held every Memorial Day in West Virginia? Looks like some fella named Bil Lepp has won that liars' contest five times, and he can't even spell right -- at least not his first name! Just check out that NPR story . . . there are at least four audio pod-casts of stories attached. Then there's perennial contestant Adam J. Booth, who has apparently decided to make an entire career of lying and story-telling.

Here's a link to the website of the annual Black Storytellers Convention, held in Minneapolis, Minnesota: "Signifyin' & Testifyin'" with, as a good example of the fun they have, the event page from their 2006 Convention.

And, let's not ignore the fact that way out in the California desert, in San Diego County, each year on the first Saturday in April, the local chamber notes that even the breathtaking Anza-Borrego Desert State Park hosts the annual Peg-Leg Smith Liar's Contest. There is also the famous Huck Finn Jubilee held over father's day weekend out in Victorville, California, which featured a Friday night "Liar's Contest" as well.

Then there's the George West Storyfest down in Texas; several photos from a "fish tales" event at the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo; tales of Illinois storytelling, including Dr. Frog; and even a specialty liars contest for morel mushroom hunters, which is also held in Illinois!

So, there's plenty of background and history to the art. But nothing designated as such from New Jersey -- other than perhaps the genre misadventures of the musical group called Liars, who apparently "relocated to a cabin in the woods of New Jersey for the recording sessions" where they emersed themselves in witch fokelore. It didn't make it in the music world.

Be sure to show up at the Stockton Inn on the 18th of February. It promises to be fun.

Here is some more contact information:

The Stockton Inn address is, 1 Main St. Stockton, NJ 08559. Phone: 1-609-397-1250 (fax/8948). It is located at the intersection of Route 29 and Main Street, a few miles north of the Lambertville Exit onto Rt. 29 from Rt. 202, the last exit before the Rt. 202 toll bridge over the Delaware into Pennsylvania; or about 14 miles north of the I-95 (Scudders Falls) Bridge over the Delaware. Take the Lambertville/Rt. 29 Exit, north about 10.5 miles to Bridge Street at the light in Lambertville, turn left, and a quick right onto N. Main Street/Rt. 29 north for another 3.5 miles into downtown Stockton. It is 1/4 mile past the "Mile 22" marker on Rt. 29 going north.


*And speaking of Colorado, a few years ago I attended and participated in a liar's contest, held annually near the end of September, that year in a saloon called "Kochevars" which is located in downtown Crested Butte, Colorado. Unfortunately, a modest search did not locate any specific reference to the contest itself, but it may have been associated with their annual Vinotok Festival, which does feature a liars contest.

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At 8:29 PM, February 02, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lifestyle choice for some! But politicos should be banned completely. All they will do is act normal.


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