Rotary Corn Roast offers comedy in the mud
JANESVILLE What form of entertainment delivers the biggest bang for the buck?
Tastes may differ, but a good argument can be made for mud volleyball at the annual Rotary Corn Roast.
Tickets were $1 in advance and $2 at the gate Friday at Janesville’s Traxler Park. That price bought you a front-row seat—if you didn’t mind a little spatter—to hours of smiles.
A comedian eliciting this many belly laughs would call it a great night.
This was definitely comedy, not sport at its finest. The muddy water and sticky mud held the gazelle-like leaps to a minimum, even for the most athletic.
Ýou try to move, you stick in, and you fall right in your spot,” said Joe Sagaitis of the Wiggy’s Saloon team.
Much of the applause was saved for dives to save the ball, not because such moves were so athletic, but because the splash and resultant mud-covered body were so spectacular.
Many a clean-clad player was instantly transformed into Swamp Thing.
“You dive, and you get mud in between your teeth,” said Jessica Reed of Janesville, a teammate of Sagaitis, as she pointed proudly to the grit between her incisors.
Few seemed to mind the filth. Many embraced it.
“Half of us were in the mud before we even started playing,” said Reed’s teammate Jessica Flint.
Some were like the Mid America Bank team, who kept their matching powder-blue T-shirts almost perfectly clean through the first game of their best-of-three set. Why?
“Well, because they haven’t hit a ball, yet,” Sharon Luebke said wryly as she watched her teammates prepare for their second game.
Longtime mud volleyball official Gary Smith said many players are finicky at first, “and after their first big splash, they don’t care.”
Some flopped into the soupy courts after their matches, reveling in the mud.
“I did two belly flops, got real dirty, and then two of us jumped in the river,” Sagaitis said.
Reed, on the other hand, savored the mud that was drying on her body, refusing to wash it off.
“The girls like it because it’s good for their skin,” Sagaitis said.
Which is why the boys should like it, too, Reed rejoined.
Beau Benner of Juda, from the Dirty Sets team, stripped down to a Speedo for his second game “because I look good wearing it.”
Not everyone agreed.
“Cover that with mud,” said a woman from the sidelines.
Mud volleyball has been a mainstay of the corn roast for years, but its popularity has not faded. Saturday’s 33 teams set a record.
The number of teams with sponsors willing to foot the $200 fee was down, however, said organizer Karl Dommershausen.
“But the kids love to play, so they are ponying up the money between themselves,” Dommershausen said.
Some participants—perhaps those not so focused on winning—were drinking beer before 10 a.m.
“The beer definitely helps,” Reed said.
A few players appeared to be drinking more than was absolutely necessary, getting sloppy drunk before noontime.
But alcohol was not a requirement for having a good time.
“What it is, is fun,” said Smith as he stood, spotless on the officials platform. “I wouldn’t do it, would you?”
For those who missed Saturday’s mudfest, there’s more to come this summer.
The annual LaborFest on the UAW grounds in Janesville features mud volleyball Sept. 4 and 5.