Parents crowd around a picnic table and root for their children chowing down on whoopie pies during the youth eating contest on Saturday. Grant Lundy of Bangor was crowed the winner. (Valerie Royzman | BDN)

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — It took 10-year-old Grant Lundy just under a minute and 30 seconds to scarf down two whoopie pies in the youth eating contest at the Whoopie Pie Festival on Saturday.

It was an impressive feat for the first-time competitor from Bangor who took big gulps of water in between bites of whoopie pie and stopped to wipe his face with a napkin before shooting his arm into the air to declare victory.

“It feels very good,” said Lundy, whose grandparents live in Dover-Foxcroft. “Like, very good. At first I didn’t know if I’d win because I saw a bunch of other empty plates.”

Adults eat whoopie pies during a contest.
Bryan Lowder, who is from North Carolina and works at Acadia National Park seasonally, raises his hand to declare victory in the adult eating contest at the Whoopie Pie Festival on Saturday. He was the first among eight adults to scarf down four whoopie pies. Credit: Valerie Royzman / BDN

The 13th iteration of the Whoopie Pie Festival returned to downtown Dover-Foxcroft this weekend after a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. A virtual version of the event was held in 2020 and 2021. What began as a small fundraiser in the Center Theatre parking lot in 2009 has flourished into the largest annual event in Piscataquis County that draws thousands of Mainers and visitors from out of state every year.

“I was very concerned about the heat in terms of people’s attendance and whoopie pies don’t always do well in the heat,” said Patrick Myers, executive director of the theater, which organizes the event with the Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce. “But people really enjoyed it.”

Attendance numbers weren’t immediately available, but Myers has never seen so many people gathered in the small town, and “every indication was that this was record-setting,” he said.

A stretch of East Main Street was blocked off to make room for about 20 bakers selling whoopie pies and vendors offering a variety of carnival food favorites. Crafters and makers — some from as far away as Texas — sold handmade wooden creations, soaps, wreaths and more.

The Piscataquis County-based Doughty Hill Band performed songs. Dover True Value hosted Dan Burns, an Augusta-based chainsaw carving artist, for its second home expo show and raffled off one of his pieces. A kids zone offered bounce houses, a bungee trampoline and rides on a mechanical bull. Conjuring Carroll, a magician from Embden whose real name is Carroll Chapman, made balloon animals for children and put on a magic show.

Magician Conjuring Carroll, whose real name is Carroll Chapman, creates a balloon animal for a child at the Whoopie Pie Festival on Saturday. Credit: Valerie Royzman / BDN

“It’s nice to be back doing what I love doing,” said Chapman, who donned a hot pink shirt with bananas and has attended the festival since its inception.

Forever Whoopies owner Michelle Emery of Fairfield sold whoopie pie Christmas ornaments, earrings, keychains and magnets at her booth. She began whipping up whoopie pies for her kids’ school bake sales, which later evolved into her craft business and attending events like the Whoopie Pie Festival.

Farther down the street, Abigail Hall of Garland Christian Fellowship painted a green dragon on the face of a little boy named Even Washington. The festival was the first time Even and his siblings tasted a whoopie pie, his father Jonathan Washington said. The family is from the Philadelphia area.

The Whoopie Pie Festival, back in person after a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, drew thousands to downtown Dover-Foxcroft on Saturday. Credit: Valerie Royzman / BDN

Vail’s Custom Cakes and Icelandic Bakery, based in Dover-Foxcroft, offered whoopie pies in multiple flavors, from chocolate peanut butter to lemon blueberry and cream cheese to vegan vanilla Oreo. By about 1 p.m., the bakery was down to just two flavors.

“We can’t keep up,” Charlie Vail said, smiling and ringing out customers. He and his wife, Jen Vail, co-own the family business.

By the mid-afternoon, many bakers were running low on whoopie pies. Crowd favorites at Dexter-based Sweetie Pies included orange creamsicle, lemon and Bismarck flavors, owner Heather Villone said. Mum’s Gluten Free Kitchen from Parkman offered 19 gluten-free options, including coconut, coffee and mint whoopie pies.

Whoopie pies are shown on a plate.
Whoopie pies from My Three Leaves & Mum’s Gluten Free Kitchen, based in Parkman. Credit: Valerie Royzman / BDN

Teenagers and adults also competed in whoopie pie eating contests. Tyler Wing of Sangerville and Bryan Lowder of North Carolina claimed those victories, respectively. Lowder, who is working seasonally at Acadia National Park, decided to check out the festival after hearing about it on the radio — and it did not disappoint, he said.

Annie Raynes, 17, of Dover-Foxcroft and has attended the festival since she was about 5 years old. This year’s version is better than ever, she said while standing in line for a lemonade, eating a red velvet-flavored whoopie pie.

“Dover is a pretty small town, but this attracts a lot of different people,” she said. “That’s probably my favorite part.”