Stone-skippers to compete this weekend

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NORTH BENNINGTON — "It's shocking how far they can throw them, and how many skips."

That's how Karen Schroeder describes the sight of champion stone-skippers competing at Lake Paran, part of a stone-skipping festival the lake's board has held for about four years, for amateur and high-level stone-skippers alike.

This year, it's Saturday, Sept. 22, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Practice time is available from noon to 5 p.m, with tips from the champions.

Free competitions are offered for children, amateurs and champions.

Children's competitions are divided by age — 3 to 6 years old, 6 to 10 years old and 10 to 13 years old.

The professional division is unisex; amateur men and amateur women compete in separate divisions. Professionals judge the amateur divisions, and Lake Paran board members judge the professionals. No pre-registration or fee is required to compete.

The competition isn't a championship game, but it attracts professionals — last year, about nine champions attended, Schroeder said.

The event will also feature live music, rock painting for children and barbecue food for purchase, with hot dogs, salads and chips.

Winners in their division receive stone statutes.

"They look like skipping stones, piled up on top of each other," said Schroeder, who builds the statues every year.

Event organizers also offer stones for competitors, which they collect and divide up by size to sell for about $5 a bucket.

"We collect bins and bins and barrels and barrels of them," Schroeder said.

Still, many pros bring their own stones.

"Because they know the size and weight they prefer," she said.

Champions can get over 80 skips when they throw a stone.

"It's easy to see the first 10 or 15, but then sometimes they go so fast at the end," Schroeder said.

She recalled last year's event, when the calm day enabled more skipping — pros could throw the stones about the length of a football field across the lake, until the stones hit the dam.

Schroeder's personal best number of skips was 12.

"I do it for fun," she said.

Last year, the weather was beautiful, and the event had about 35 total attendees.

"That was good," Schroeder said. "It is a niche type of thing."

Lake Paran board members began hosting the event after stone-skippers reached out, saying they were looking for a lake in the region for this particular time of year — the middle of their competition season.

Most of the champions are from the Northeastern United States, Schroeder said.

From that communicated came the stone-skipping competition at Lake Paran.

"We started putting it on, and it's been great fun," Schroeder said.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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