ACTON — Skillet throwing is nothing like slinging hash or flipping burgers.

For one thing, the act of launching a 2-pound-plus steel skillet as far as possible down a straight line marked by a tape measure involves a different set of muscles and skills than those required to handle a frying pan over a kitchen range.

That may explain why Georgia Hall, 24, of Limerick, a former college discus thrower, won the skillet-throwing contest at the Acton Fair on Saturday. Hall, who is about four months pregnant, managed to outthrow her closest competitor by 10 feet.

“Never underestimate a pregnant lady,” said Heidi Thuotte, emcee of the competition.

The skillet-throwing contest was one of the highlights Saturday at the Acton Fair, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary during a four-day run. The last day is Sunday, when the fair runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Rick Burke, in charge of the Acton Fairgrounds, said he decided to add the skillet toss to the fair’s lineup three years ago to encourage more women, who tend to shy away from such traditional contests as oxen pulling and the lawn mower rodeo, to enter the fair competitions. Burke said he had seen skillet throws draw crowds at other fairs. The event in Acton has grown every year since.

The origins of skillet throwing are murky. Burke said he didn’t know where it started. Kevin Ham, the official tape measurer, said it might have first sprung up in Europe.

“That’s what it seemed to be when I Googled it,” said Ham.

The event is for women only.

“The only thing the men get here is picked on,” said fair volunteer John Neer of Rochester, New Hampshire.

The event is informal. It started about 45 minutes late on Saturday. First the parade ran longer than scheduled and then someone had to drive home to retrieve the skillets from storage.

But the crowd didn’t seem to mind and cheered loudly when the close to 40 contestants, divided into four classes by age, began tossing the pans in the horse show ring. Competitors in each class were vying for a $25 cash prize and a plaque-emblazoned skillet. The four winners would then compete for the $50 grand prize and an extra-large skillet trophy.

Competitors included women with absolutely no experience and others who have competed at other fairs or practiced in their backyards. Contestants were dressed in sneakers, T-shirts and shorts, but there were a few in dresses. A few wore flip-flops.

Each contestant was allowed one throw. If the pan landed wide of the measuring tape, that distance was subtracted from the length of the throw.

Most contestants, whose experience tossing frying pans ranged from zero to some, stood at the line and tossed with the skillet perpendicular to the ground. Several pans went soaring like fly balls. One skillet landed with its handle stuck deep in the dirt.

But when Hall got into position to throw, it became clear she had something special in mind. Twisting almost totally backward, she flung the skillet in a graceful arc. The pan took off like a Frisbee.

Hall said her only other experience was at a church function.

“I hadn’t thrown a pan before,” said Hall, whose two sisters, both discus throwers, and her mother all competed Saturday.

Hall not only won her class but the championship.

Burke said the event was such a hit he is hoping that the skillet-throwing champions at all of Maine’s fairs will compete at the Fryeburg Fair this fall.

Here are the winners of Acton’s skillet throw by class:

Age 65 and up: Jean Morris of Shapleigh, 28.5 feet.

Age 46 to 64: Rachel Blake of Sanford, 42.2 feet.

Age 30 to 45: Karen Smith of Acton and Boston, 57 feet.

Age 18 to 29: Georgia Hall, Limerick, 67 feet.

 

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