Saturday, August 25th proved to be a picture-perfect day for a stone skipping event in Franklin! With temperatures in the low 80s and plenty of sunshine, several hundred folks turned out to watch what has become the nation’s premiere competitive stone skipping event, with perhaps the exception of Mackinac Island. This event continues to grow with each successive year, and this year saw participants arriving from no fewer than five states and Canada. New to this year’s event was competitor Melissa McLaughlin, who made the trip all the way from Boston, Massachusetts with her sister Hillary and friend Ian. While not quite good enough to put her in the top five, Melissa’s high score of 32 was an accomplishment to be proud of, and probably the best score ever at the event by a woman.
The 2012 field of pro competitors turned out to be the largest ever in the history of the event and included 41 rookie and veteran pro skippers. The prerequisite to enter the pro division is to have thrown a minimum of 20 skips at some point in the amateur division. Competition is as heated as ever, with at least a dozen very capable shooters who are fully intent on taking away the crown from Kurt Steiner, the 2011 winner, or Franklin’s own Russ Byars, who has held the title more than any other skipper.
Paul Fero of Big Indian, New York, came out swinging in round one, as did Greg Winger of Franklin, both with scores of 30. But Russ Byars answered immediately in Round Two with a solid 39, knocking out Winger’s 35 and another 35 thrown by Dave Ohmer of Titusville. But Kurt “Mountain Man” Steiner vindicated his lowly Round One score of 5 with a crowd-pleasing 40, beating Byars by just one skip. Round Three provided a weak showing from everyone except Eric Henne of Ithaca, NY. Eric has proven his meddle in this competition, having placed Second in last year’s event. Rounds Four and Five resulted in failed attempts by the heavy hitters to take on Steiner’s 40, but Round Six, the final round, quickly got hot, as both Eric Henne and Paul Fero came through with skips of 40. Byars lost his groove and only scored a 1 for the final round.
So with a three-way tie based on scores of 40, the judges dropped down to each competitor’s second-best score, which resulted in first place going to Kurt Steiner with scores of 40 and 39; Eric Henne with 40 and 37; and Paul Fero with 40 and 32. Byars settled into Fourth Place with his high score of 39.
- Jared Oliver, 27; Alex Ferry, 23; Eric Elwell, 20
- Jeff Minnick, 30; Glenn Zorich, 29/27; Jill Takach, 29/22
- Kurt "Mountain
Man" Steiner, 40/39; Eric Henne, 40/37; Paul Fero, 40/32
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 was 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
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