A hush falls upon the crowd gathered at The Fernie as the three remaining contestants in the pub’s annual hot wing eating competition suffer through the fifth and final round, the silence punctuated only by the sound of chewing and occasional shout of encouragement.
Slowly but surely, the contestants pick the meat off the chicken bones, sweat trickling down their foreheads, veins bulging, and their hands and mouths stained orange.
They have only one thing on their mind – a year’s worth of free wings.
Suddenly, cheers erupt as Edmonton’s Tyler Madsen thrusts his arms into the air, having finished his wings first, while fellow fire breathers Adam Green and Owen Whittaker look on in dismay.
“I’ve never entered a competition but I’ve got friends back home who order in sauces from all over the world then I’d be the first person they’d call up as the guinea pig… maybe that will help me a bit,” said Green prior to the competition.
With his lips slathered in Vaseline, Whittaker was feeling confident and put on a good show, only reaching for his glass of milk in the final rounds.
Trinidad moruga scorpion chillis were the spiciest thing he’d ever eaten before tasting The Fernie’s “mega death extreme” sauce – the hottest in the competition’s history.
“I used to grow them and make chilli sauce with them,” he said.
“They were the hottest chillis in the world at one stage.”
The eating contest was held on Saturday as part of Fernie’s annual winter festival, Griz Days.