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Thrills and spills abound at Snowdown ‘Beer Puppeteer’ contest

People gathered to test their dexterity and beer-guzzling abilities Friday at Carver Brewing Co.
Kurt Pattison clamps on his beer cup with his mouth during the Snowdown Beer Puppeteer event on Friday at Carver Brewing Co. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

A puppet show of drunken proportions unfolded in the beer garden at Carver Brewing Co. on Friday, where people gathered to test their dexterity and beer-guzzling abilities in a novel Beer Puppeteer contest.

Teams of two competed three at a time. One member from each team wore a wooden and string harness and pulley system, with which they were tasked to meticulously place or “puppet” a plastic cup of beer into the prime position for their teammate to drink from the cup.

“Excessive spills will disqualify people but I’m sure there’ll be a few of them,” Carver Brewing co-owner Colin Carver said on Friday before the event kicked off. “It should be really funny. I tried it yesterday. It’s pretty hard to do. There’s like a learning curve. It should be hopefully not too messy. We give people these little ponchos to wear.”

Some competitors were more prepared than others.

One team managed to down their beer in seconds. Other teams had spilled their beers in about as much time.

Matt Brewer and Michael Hauswald said they advanced through the first round of the contest, but not without a minor casualty.

Hauswald, who was steadily taking drinks as Brewer controlled the strings and tried his best to keep the cup steady, had the front of his shirt absolutely soaked when the cup spilled near the end of the round.

Matt Brewer, left, and Michael Houswald compete in their final moments of the first round of the Snowdown 2024 Beer Puppeteer contest at Carver Brewing Co. on Friday. (Christian Burney/Durango Herald)

Hauswald said he had a raincoat on in addition to a large plastic bib provided to contestants, but the beer still made its way down the front of his shirt.

“Now I’m all wet and sticky,” he said before heading off into the restaurant.

Brewer said controlling the cup of beer with puppet strings was much harder than he first thought it would be.

“It was super difficult. You assume you can just pour it straight (into) the mouth. But no, there’s more strategy,” he said. “There’s some biting technique that we’re missing out on. So that’s what we’re gonna work on for the next round.”

During the rounds, people shouted at competitors to “bite the cup” in order to hold the drink in place and down the alcohol more easily.

He said he heard great things about the Snowdown Follies and would attend that evening’s show.

Brewer said this is his first year in town after moving to Durango from Denver and “it’s nice to see the community come out with the flowers on and get freaky.”

He said anyone who missed the Freaky Deaky Super Sexy Car Wash earlier on Friday missed out.

“It made me uncomfortable and I liked it,” he said. “That’s probably what I have to say about Snowdown. It makes me a little uncomfortable and I like it.”

Brewer isn’t the only one who enjoyed the car wash, which was held at 11th Street Station on Friday.

Siri Austill and Chandra Fowler said the car wash was the best event they attended.

“Did you see Joe Dirt at the sexy car wash? I am a new person,” Austill said. “I have been changed as a person because of that experience. I’m gonna come back next year as Freddie Mercury and I’m going to make love to that truck.”

Chandra Fowler, left, downs a beer after her teammate, Siri Austill, uses a harness and pulley apparatus to “puppet” a cup of beer into position to be drank from. (Christian Burney/Durango Herald)

She said they had a working strategy going into the Beer Puppeteer contest and they looked beautiful doing it.

“We looked amazing,” Fowler said. “We were connected in our mind and our soul.”

“We were connected to each other’s energies and we were winners in the end,” Austill added.


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