Manchester's Brooke Champine wins statewide "Best Bagger Competition"

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MANCHESTER — Manchester's own Brooke Champine emerged victorious at the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association's "Best Bagger Competition," hosted in South Burlington this past Saturday.

Champine, 18, will now travel to Las Vegas to represent Vermont in the national Best Bagger Competition, taking place in February.

"It was a lot of fun, I had a really good time," said Champine, a cashier at the Shaw's Supermarket in Manchester. "I've never been to Las Vegas before, so that's really exciting."

On Oct. 21, 12 competitors from supermarkets around the state competed in the "Best Bagger Competition," hosted at the University Mall in South Burlington. During the competition, contestants were challenged to pack about 35 items into two reusable shopping bags.

Baggers were judged on their speed, the distribution of weight between bags, and their bag building technique alongside their style, attitude and appearance. This year's judges included Stewart Ledbetter from WPTZ, Cat Viglienzoni from WCAX, 1995 competition winner Staci DaSilva from FOX 44/ABC, and Stephen Joachim from Vermont Business Magazine.

"There were people competing from other grocery stores around the state, and we had three rounds of competition with four baggers in each," said Champine. "The judges chose a winner from each round, and I won mine. Then I competed with two other girls in the final round."

In the final competition, Champine was rated first overall, followed by Kelsea Bowers, who works at Hannaford in Williston. Amanda Bouvier from the Essex Price Chopper came in third.

"This event is an opportunity to recognize front-end staff at grocery stores across the state," said VRGA President Erin Sigrist. "They're often the last people customers see before leaving the store. It's a dynamic job that requires a level of skill, personality, speed, and much more."

The competition was sponsored by a number of grocery stores with locations in Vermont including Lantman's Market, Hannaford, Price Chopper, and Shaw's Supermarkets as well as the Associated Grocers of New England, which is a supplier of several independent grocery stores across Vermont.

The food bagged during the competition, totaling 216 pounds, was donated to the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf.

"We're proud to host this event each year, and we applaud each contestant for showing their skills under pressure," said Sigrist. "We wish Brooke all the best in representing Vermont in Las Vegas in February."

"I love to travel, so I can't wait to see a new place. I'm a photographer too, so it'll be a great opportunity to take photos," said Champine. "I'm excited to meet people that will be competing from across the country."

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.

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