Peters Hollow Egg Fight long-standing county tradition
Easter is a special time for Jerry and Norman Peters, cousins who have been attending the Peters Hollow Egg Fight since they were little boys — 70 years at least.
In fact, it is down-right exciting for Jerry, who is a seven-time egg fight champ. He takes as much pride in the 17 or 18 chickens, which lay his “fighting” eggs, as he does his trophies. In addition to 12 Easter Egger hens, which produce colored eggs, Jerry has three Barred Rock hens and three or four Buff hens.
He feeds them a secret diet that includes lots of oyster shells (for calcium). And that could be the secret to his seven egg fight wins.
Although most fighters belong to one of a half-dozen families in the Stoney Creek community — such as Norman’s and Jerry’s — newcomers are also welcome to both observe and participate.
The Peters Hollow Egg Fight is an Easter tradition almost 200 years old. It dates back to 1823, when folks from Rome and Peters Hollows staged an egg fight to see whose hens produced the hardest eggs. No one knows who won that first event, but every Easter, hundreds of residents still fight it out.
There have been dozens of winners over the years, in both the adult and children’s divisions. At least one of the winners usually comes from Peters Hollow or is a descendant of someone in the hollow.
The event is held at the home of Norman Peters in Peters Hollow, and if you are planning to fight, you need to show up with your arsenal of eggs by 2 p.m., according to Norman.
For a number of years, the egg fight was held on the property of Ray Lowe. Norman said he could recall, when a little boy, walking to the egg fight with his father. “It was not unusual for a thousand or more people to show up for the fight. Soon after Sunday church there would be a long line of cars parked along the roadside below and above Ray Lowe’s house,” he said.
Over the years, the egg fight has seen smaller and smaller crowds. For the past few years, there have been about 200 to 400 participants. However, both Norman and Jerry say the tradition will likely continue for years to come because of the large number of children and young people who now take part in the fight. “There are now less older participants than there once was. Every year it seems like we lose one of our long-time participants. This past year it was Gebe Ritchie,” Norman shared with a sigh of sadness.
Both Norman and Jerry agree that the best part of the egg fight is seeing family and friends they haven’t seen in a while.
Jerry will cook dinner for his family, and after Sunday dinner most of them will congregate at Norman’s home for the egg fight. Norman shared that his fondest memories of the egg fights were in years past when family would come home for the event. He likened the event to a “big family reunion.’
While adults are now limited to an arsenal of six dozen eggs, both can remember when people used to come with dozens and dozens of eggs to fight with.
The process of fighting is a simple one. The person challenged to fight holds an egg, end up, in the more or less closed fist. The challenger taps with his egg firmly gripped in the hand, from above the egg of the challenged. Or it may be vice versa as agreed on. The point of one of the egg breaks. It is then turned around and tapped. Usually, the egg that became cracked at one point also cracks at the other end. The person whose egg remains intact receives the broken eggs and puts it in his basket, bag, box or container.
As the number of cracked eggs grow, usually the number of contestants dwindles. The winner is the last person standing or sitting with an unbroken egg.
Whether you’re a direct descendant of someone from Peters Hollow or Rome Hollow or just a visitor, everyone is treated like family during the Sunday afternoon event. “This being an election year, there probably will be a lot of candidates and some electioneering,” said Norman.
Norman, like Jerry, admits he begins to get excited two or three days before the egg fight. “We’ll color some eggs Friday or Saturday. Sunday, we’ll attend church and after lunch gather out in the yard for the big event,” he said.
In addition to the adult division, there will be divisions of competition for children up to 3 years old; for children ages 3 to 6; for children ages 7 to 12; and for children 13 to adult.
Before the afternoon is over, Norman says his yard will be full of people, both young and old, and most will have a basket of eggs. “When the day is over there will be a lot more cracked eggs than people. You can bet on that,” he said.
“I enjoy the competition, but I also enjoy the socializing. I hope we never quit having the egg fight. It’s good for families and it’s good for the community,” Jerry said.
Norman and Jerry agree that nowhere else on earth do people celebrate Easter like they do in Peters Hollow. It’s a combination of church, Sunday dinner, family, friends and competition.
The weather forecast for Sunday is just as exciting as the event — sunny and temperatures in the low 70.
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