another picture-perfect day greeted stone skipping fans on Saturday, August
27th, and with competitors showing up from eight states and
Canada, the fans were not disappointed. 2011 saw the return of Mike "Airtight
Alibi" Williamson, who has successfully skipped all Great Lakes.
Team Elwell from Erie also returned with a bigger entourage than ever.
A group of skippers which included new pro Drew Hall drove all the way
from Rock Hill, South Carolina to make the event. They drove through
the night and arrived on-site in the wee hours of the morning to make
sure they were there in time for registration. The huge field of 29
pros made for a long but entertaining round robin-style competition
which never failed to keep the fans riveted to the action, with
near-perfect water conditions on the mighty Allegheny.
pro competition at Franklin has become as unpredictable as the
weather! With Russ Byars in what appears to be a slump, the fierce
competition to get into the top three has drawn a very interesting
combination of personalities. In 2011, a pre-teen local, Brandyn
Gardinier, has proven his meddle by finishing at a very respectable
9th place in the field. Drew Hall's overnight drive all the way from
South Carolina must have been partly to blame for his weak showing
with a high score of only 15, putting him almost dead last in the
standings. (We hope Drew returns in 2012 to show us what he can really
do!) Followers of the event have enjoyed watching young local Aaron
McCracken's rise over the years from leading the youth division to
staying in the top 12 of the pros. Nate Beggs, having been coached
over the past few years by Byars himself, has finally moved up the
ranks to move into third place with a 36. And Eric Henne of Ithaca,
New York proved that his drive to Franklin was worth the effort with
his fantastic high skip of 37. But Kurt Steiner's slow return to
consistency finally earned him the top honor in 2011, with a high skip
- Brandyn Gardinier, 24; Eric Elwell, 20; Keighan Kadylak, 18
- Eric Henne, 33; Adam Swartzfager, 28/25; Chris McDaniel, 28/24
- Kurt "Mountain
Man" Steiner, 39; Eric Henne, 37; Nate Beggs, 36
Rock In River Festival is the newest Franklin festival, overlooking the confluence of
French Creek and the Allegheny River. This festival includes
kids games, rock decorating
contest, chicken barbecue, and the fun of watching amateurs and professionals (including
reigning World Champion and Guinness World Record holder Russ
Byars, and former Guinness World
Record Holder Kurt Steiner) compete for the
state championship of skipping stones across the water. Kayak
demonstration for 2011 provided by OARS.
for directions to Riverfront Park.
is sanctioned by the Mackinac Island Stone
Skipping and Gerplunking Club, who operate the nationals in Michigan each July
4. The Pennsylvania winner is entitled to compete in the prestigious "Pro
Category" at Mackinac the following Independence Day. A very elite
group of professionals from around the world gather on Windermere
Beach, a stone-covered beach on Lake Michigan beside ferry boat docks which connect
Mackinac Island to Mackinaw City on the mainland.
Officiating the PA Qualifying Stone Skipping Tournament
Commissioner Brian Barnett of Franklin and his team of judges. Contestants
are asked to submit a small donation ($5
a person amateur, 12 and under $1, pros $10), and although the
event is a "bring your own stones" tournament, exotic skipping stones from
various parts of western Pennsylvania are usually available for contestants for an additional
Registration for the competition begins at
amateur competition starts at 1:00, and the Allegheny
Chukker Challenge (pro & celebrity category) takes place at 3:00 p.m. In
keeping with tradition, the winner will receive locally-produced fudge. Click
here to go
to the Franklin site for the Registration Form for all competitors and
the official rules.
your calendars for the next Rock In River Festival, Saturday, August
Run, bike, and paddle for prizes in the Allegheny Outdoor
Adventure! This non-competitive event is open to all ages and starts
at 9:00 at the Franklin trailhead of the Justus trail. You'll finish
up just in time to catch the stone skipping activities in the park.
all press: high-resolution photos and info available here.
Fine Arts Council
& Mrs. Edward V. & Jessie Peters Charitable Trust
Nose & Throat Associates of NW PA
Lamberton House Bed & Breakfast
Radio 98.5 & 100.3