FRYEBURG — After a brief passing of raindrops at the Fryeburg Fair on Monday, visitors saw much more unusual items falling through the sky: steel skillets.

Drawing a large crowd from the already enormous numbers attending the fair on Woodsmen’s Day, the traditional skillet throw has been running for at least 20 years. Meryl Malloy, the event’s organizer, said it may have started even earlier.

“Most of these names, you know them, because they’re always there,” Malloy said. “It’s too much fun.”

The event is open to “all women of the world,” and divided into age groups ranging from 18-29 to 65 and older. Malloy said the final sign-up tally is usually more than 100 women.

There is no room for mistakes. Competitors are allowed only one toss, and no practice throws. If they cross a foul line set up as the starting point for measurements, they are disqualified.

An extra throw is allowed in the finals of the event, and the grand champion receives a wine glass commemorating the event. The fair also awards ribbons to the top six placements in each age group.

“The people that throw are very serious about it,” Malloy said.

Sisters Molly Clark, 27, of Westbrook, and Cathy Nugent, 41, of South Portland, came to the event wearing bright orange T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Skillet Sisters.” The duo, trying out the event for the first time, had prepared by practicing tosses with a skillet at a campground.

“I’ve always wanted to do it,” Nugent said. “It wasn’t until Molly and I chatted about it that it became real.”

Kim Hanauer, 29, of Durham, N.C., won her age group with a 62-foot, 9-inch throw. She said she was visiting family in Bridgton and entered the event for the first time at her godfather’s encouragement. She also practiced throwing a kitchen skillet the evening before the event, and found the fair’s skillet lighter than the 6-pound one she had trained with.

“It was great. I had a large cheering section, which was nice,” Hanauer said. “A little nervous. A lot of expectation.”

Hanauer said her practice skillet broke from the non-traditional use, and Malloy said similar setbacks at the event led to the use of custom-made skillets. A local business, Ela Sheet Metal, now makes the skillets for the fair.

The first contestant to throw was 100-year-old Mid Heath, who, fair President Roy Andrews said, has done the toss every year since it began. Heath threw this year from her wheelchair.

“There’s no questions she won her age class, that’s for sure,” Andrews said.

Maureen Burns, of Hollister, Mass., said she first found out about the toss several years ago when she and her husband were displaying oxen at the fair. Now 73, Burns said she has done skillet tosses at other fairs as well and won three blue ribbons and two yellow ribbons. She plans to keep doing the competition.

“I haven’t lost a ribbon yet, so I might as well,” she said.

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