Warm sunshine spread across the island like golden sweet honey being poured out as a rich indulgent gift to everyone who felt it. Locals began to gather at the area we call “down front”. Groups of four dressed in outlandish costumes to identify themselves as a team. Each team represented a restaurant, bar, family or just a crazy group of friends. They were all about to compete to be the first to drink the taste of sweet victory from the highly coveted Kevin Carpenter Cup. Which is a wooden hand turned trophy created by award winning wood turner Steve Cook. This is the prize of the first annual Tybee Bar Olympics.
One year ago, beloved friend and restaurateur, Kevin Carpenter passed away unexpectedly at the young age of thirty-nine. In addition to creating two successful Tybee restaurants, Kevin had a vision to teach teenaged kids fine culinary skills, at no cost to the teens, through a program called Teen Cusine. This was put together through the Tybee Island YMCA. Kevin’s business partner A.J. Baker and a handful of close friends and colleagues wanted to carry on Kevin’s dream in his memory. In order for this to happen, funding for this program was needed. A.J. and friends felt that creating an annual fundraiser would ensure the success of the Teen Cusine program.
In three short weeks this team of friends pulled together a plan for the first ever Tybee Bar Olympics. The overview was there would be twenty teams consisting of four member each. The teams would travel by foot, bicycle, or chauffeur to several Tybee establishments and compete in bar activities such as quarters, flip cup, hot dog and ghost pepper wing eating contests, and consumption of beer provided by Bud Light.
The event organizers gathered donations from all over the island. Whenever Kevin’s name was mentioned, the reply was unanimously “I’m In.” days before the event My friend Carolyn Williams’ house was filled with prizes worth thousands of dollars to be raffled and auctioned off at the event.
A date was set and a simple Facebook event page was started. Three weeks quickly passed, and the eighty contestants plus hundreds of on-lookers are assembled outside of Tybee Time to kick off the opening ceremonies. A toast to Kevin and the national anthem sung by none other than our multi talented friend Jennifer Smoot.
It was a most perfect spring day filled with laughter and friendly competition as each team grappled to not be eliminated and make it in the final competitions at Hucapoos.
Navigating their way at stops in eight bars and restaurants from the south end to the north end. Flipping quarters, red solo cups, throwing basket balls and riding toddler bicycles in the park…this was serious business and Kevin’s spirit was present through the day as laughter and a love for life and community carried through the air.
The final stop was at Hucapoos, where the sounds of In for a Penny came bouncing down the stairs from the open air wooden deck hidden under the live oak trees.
Points from the day were tallied and the teams that made it to the finals were announced and instructed to gather behind the pizza joint where a food industry relay was to be completed by the top teams. Successfully serving a heavy tray of water filled glasses, running through tires, speed trash takeout, rolling silverware and bartending skills were put to the test. This relay put the Hucapoos and 80 East teams on top.
After nearly seven hours of tough competition, the two finalists continued to battle it out for nearly an hour over a game of giant beer pong, which was played with trash cans and a volleyball in the parking lot of hucapoos. My son Bryce was on the Poo crew, so there were obviously some hilarious proud mama moments through the day. The final winning shot was made by 80 East, which appropriately was one of Kevin’s restaurants.
Everyone gathered under the stars on the Hucapoos deck to celebrate the winners and all of us being able to live in this generous community. Eric read off winning raffle tickets as prizes donated were passed to the winners. I walked away with the best prize I’ve ever won, a Fat Tire Beach cruiser! Over $7,000 was raised which will be an amazing start to keep the Culinary program moving ahead.
Here is a link to a gallery of over one thousand images from the day. We really do live here on this crazy little island where we have larger than life personalities and people love each other more than words can express. I lay my head on my pillow each night thanking God that we are so blessed to call this silly, loving, little island home.