LISBON FALLS — Two room-temperature liters. One minute. Too many belches to count.

Ken Carll of Durham out-drank 12 other men Saturday to become the 2009 Moxie Chuggin’ Challenge champ when he drained a two-liter bottle and promptly asked for a Moxie chaser.

The 48-year-old said he was still thirsty.

“There’s no other soda that tastes like it,” Carll said. “People describe it as nasty root beer or root beer with medicine, but I love the stuff.”

The men drew quite a crowd to watch the feat as thousands turned out in picture-perfect weather Saturday for the 26th Moxie Festival, a day Lisbon Falls throws itself into celebrating the iconic soft drink. There were carnival games (knock over the can of Moxie.) Souvenirs (Moxie tees.) And food (Moxie jam, for instance.)

Frank Anicetti, whose Kennebec Fruit Co. turns into the Moxie Store during the festival, said with the economy he’d expected attendance to be down this year, perhaps at 20,000. Instead it was up, at roughly 30,000.

His store, the only place in the world to buy Moxie ice cream, he said, had gone through nearly 80 gallons by mid-afternoon.

Why all the Moxie love?

“It brings the people together, the old and the young, to share in the mystique of the oldest carbonated beverage continually on the market,” Anicetti said.

Buddy Edwards, 20, of Lewiston, passed up a trip to the beach to hit the festival. He hadn’t eaten all day to get ready for the 2 p.m. chug. He came in second.

“I’ve always liked Moxie,” Edwards said. “It kind of tastes like perfume and medicine, but that’s all right. If I get it and I put it in my fridge, I know no one else will drink it.”

Festival co-coordinator Toby Conroy said he came up with the challenge five or six years ago, envisioning a sort of grog-drinking contest. He was happy afterward that no one got sick in front of the crowd — that sometimes happens.

Carll said he’d entered several times, never winning before. He practiced at home by downing one-liters. He said he was surprised he’d out-chugged his 22-year-old son, Ken Carll III. His son, home on leave from the Army, enjoys Moxie so much that the family ships cans to him down in Fort Polk, La.
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Ken Carll II takes a swig of Moxie to cool off in the hot afternoon sun Saturday afternoon at the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls. He was the first to finish a two-liter bottle during Saturday’s chugging competiton.

Mike Robitaille, red hat, of the Lisbon Falls Fire Co., taunts cross-town rival E.T. Smith Hose Co. in a firefighters’ muster involving several departments at the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls on Saturday. Lisbon Falls Fire Co. won the muster.

Scenes from Saturday’s Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls. *** Local Caption *** Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal
Scenes from Saturday’s Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls.

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