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Ice cream contest among activities drawing thousands to Windmill City Fest

BATAVIA - Brookelyn VandeLoo had worried about brain freeze.

But when VandeLoo, 5, of Batavia, raised her hand in victory, with blue, pink and yellow melted ice cream smeared all over her face, it was through a mixture of pain and pleasure that she claimed the title of the fastest eater of ice cream under age 6 in her city.

"She's been in training for this for the last few weeks," joked her father, Tim VandeLoo, a smile creasing his face. "Maybe even for the past year."

Sunday, Brookelyn and her younger brother, Blake, 2, were among more than three dozen contestants to tackle the task of eating ice cream from a foil-lined gutter as fast as they could, during the annual ice cream eating contest at Batavia's Windmill City Fest.

The contest was among the final events during the weekend-long festival, held in downtown Batavia on the Riverwalk.

Contestants in the ice cream contest competed against peers in four age groups: 6 and under, 7-10, 11-17 and 18 years and older.

Most of the 41 contestants competed in the two youngest age brackets, each standing in front of the trough-like gutters, their hands placed behind their backs, attacking a scoop of ice cream with nothing more than their mouths. Their parents, family and friends gathered around to snap pictures or record video of the ice cream eating frenzy and forever capture images of their ice cream-smeared faces.

VandeLoo had competed in the event for the previous two years. Last year, she placed third, said her mother, Jennifer VandeLoo.

The VandeLoo family had come to the festival Saturday night, as well, but returned Sunday afternoon specifically to allow their daughter to take another crack at the title, Jennifer said.

After the competition, the children were also likely to participate in the annual fire hose challenge, she said.

"It's great," Jennifer said. "They can eat ice cream as fast as they can, and then they can get hosed off after."

The family was just some of the crowd estimated in the hundreds Sunday afternoon.

Roger Breisch, executive director of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce, one of the groups organizing the Windmill City Fest, said the event this year was success, with "huge crowds" packing the festival site Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"The weather has been wonderful," Breisch said. "The afternoons were hot, but the nights were cool, and with the size of the crowds in here at night, it had to be in the thousands."

He said he had received good reports from vendors, as well, noting they had sold "huge amounts" of food and drink during the festival, and particularly during the musical performances each of the three evenings.

"It's been a really great festival this year," he said.

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