Pub hosts first spelling bee

Grace Bieber/Sun Star Contributor
Dec. 10, 2013

The UAF Pub hosted its “1st Annual Adult Spelling Bee” last Wednesday evening, with seven contestants and an emphasis on humor.

Academic advisor Donald Crocker, was the “wordmaster”, or announcer, and “collaborative wordfinder” for the event. He called it, “The only spelling bee in town where you can drink—legally.”

The event consisted of three rounds and a final round. The prizes included an Alaska freezer beer mug, Alaska IPA baseball cap, Budlight sunglasses, shot glasses, and beer glasses. “And the knowledge that you are a better speller than at least six people on campus,” Crocker added.

Joining Crocker was Seth Hawkins, “wordmaster” and contributor, and judges Pub Manager Heather Kraemerand Econmics student Anna Dale, and Meghan Packee.

Each contestant was assigned a name, such as “Contestant One,” “Contestant Thirty,” or simply, “Contestant”.  When a contestant spelled a word correctly, Crocker clinked a beer glass, and the contestant was allowed to pass to the next round. If a contestant missed a word, Hawkins said “ding” into the microphone. Contestants who misspelled a word were given a second word at the end of the round. If they spelled the word correctly they were allowed to remain in the competition. Two contestants were eliminated each round.

The first round included the words, “amalgamate,” “mnemonic” and “cafeteria.” Consolation prizes were awarded to those who were eliminated. One contestant’s request to call “dibs” on a prize before the round started was denied. However, he was eliminated in the first round and was awarded the prize he wanted.

During round two the contestants began to ask for the words to be used in sentences, which had nothing to do with the words themselves. Hawkins described the word “aficionado” as “the feeling every white man gets when he lays his first egg.”

Round three featured words such as “wildebeest” and “tonsillectomy.” In the final round Contestant One lost with the word “bouillabaisse” and Hailey Nelson, a physics major, won with the word “formaldehyde.”  The spelling bee concluded with Crocker’s closing words, “We’ll be back in a year, I guess, ‘cause that’s what annual implies.”

Nelson learned about the event from working at the pub. She studied for about one hour before hand by looking up word lists from past spelling bees on the Internet, and using the Merriam-Webster practice site. Though she doesn’t think the practice helped her to win, she thought it was fun. Nelson has been participating in spelling bees since elementary school and this was the first she has ever won. “You can never learn to spell well enough,” she said.

Boe Edwards, who graduated from UAF this year with a degree in Spanish also participated in the spelling bee as Contestant Thirty. He did not practice for the spelling bee and signed up as he walked in the door. “It was fun,” he said, “And I got free glasses.”

Kraemer decided to facilitate a spelling bee in September when Packee mentioned the idea.

“I saw a video on a spelling bee at a pub and thought we could do something like this, not as drunk, but something like this,” Packee said.

According to Crocker, the general consensus among the judges was that they “over-reached on difficulty” and plan to start with easier words next time.

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