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A Squishy Affair: Mountain Harvest Festival Grape Stomp

The 14th annual Mountain Harvest Festival took place in Paonia over the weekend. And one of its events is messier than the others.

The Contest

Four-year-old Tazzy Wilensky is about to compete in the Grape Stomp contest at the festival.

She’s dressed like a butterfly and is a bit shy.

She says she's there to "squish grapes" and it's here first time trying it.

Lena Wilensky is Tazzy’s mom. She’s also dressed like a butterfly.

"We're trying to squish as much juice out of the grapes as we can and also put on a good show," Wilensky says. 

The mother and daughter are part of a four person team called Team Tazzy & the Butterfly Hunters.

The team’s other two members are wearing hunter's orange and carrying insect collecting nets.

How It Works

Contestants first have to wash their feet in large tubs. Then they get on stage and climb into a large wooden barrel full of grapes.

Two teams face off at a time. They get three minutes to stomp. Then they have a minute to drain the juice into a bucket that the judges later weigh.

Wilensky says the contest is a lot of fun.

Her team won the "most juice" category.

They stomped over 7 pounds of juice.

Prizes are also awarded for best costume, showmanship, and best I Love Lucy themed team.

Proceeds from the Grape Stomp go to two local organizations.

“This is a fundraiser to support Solar Energy International’s Solar in the Schools program," Kathy Swartz, the executive director of SEI, says. "And it also supports the Paonia [Public] Library Foundation."

Swartz says this the seventh year of the contest.

“We had 16 teams this year," she says "And each team had at least three to four people."

Swartz says the Grape Stomp raised about $1,500. 

Laura joined KVNF in 2014. She was the news director for two years and now works as a freelance reporter covering Colorado's Western Slope. Laura is an award-winning journalist with work recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, Colorado Broadcasters Association, and RTDNA. In 2015, she was a fellow for the Institute for Justice & Journalism. Her fellowship project, a three-part series on the Karen refugee community in Delta, Colorado, received a regional Edward R. Murrow Award.
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