WILSON: Campfire championships

Published 8:32 am Saturday, November 14, 2020

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Play-by-Play Announcer: Good evening everyone, and welcome to the 44th annual Campfire Championships. This storied competition is being held, again this year, at the completely rebuilt Center of the Universe Stadium — home of the Zoomers potato cannon sharpshooting team. I’m Jon Babbler, and I will be calling the plays. We are joined this year by the undefeated, recently retired and 43-time Campfire Champion, Randy Firewalker. Mr. Firewalker will be handling the color commentary for this evening’s competition. Firewalker, welcome to the broadcast booth.

Color Commentator: Thank you, Jon. It is really great to be here on this cool, crisp, fall evening — perfect weather for putting another log on the fire. The newly rebuilt facility is amazing — and I would like to apologize (again) to the league president, R.A. Esquire, for last year’s epic blaze that destroyed the original Fire Palace.

PBPA: It certainly was the capstone of your illustrious career. Last year’s unprecedented 43rd championship win will be forever highlighted by the soaring flames that took down this venerated facility. Yours is a record that may never be broken.

CC: Thank you, Jon. You are too kind — but correct.

PBPA: Our judges for the final round are Mike and Donny Sumo — brothers that have been active on the campfire circuit for decades. Mike placed second and Donny came in third at the 1984 event.

CC: The Sumo brothers gave me some pretty stiff competition that year. The next year, they entered the team competition and smoked everyone during the 4:20 relays.

PBPA: A surprising newcomer has made it all the way to the final round. What can you tell us about this new upstart?

CC: L.D. Wontduit is in his rookie year. He successfully competed in several amateur events before turning pro, and has been the Cinderella story of this year’s tournament. Let’s watch as he approaches the fire ring.

PBPA: I’m sensing hesitation. Wontduit started with a crumpled newspaper tinder, followed by a simple kindling stack of maple twigs. However, he has now replaced the newsprint with paper plates, and the twigs with cedar shavings, surrounded by a four-square stack of pine boards.

CC: The judges are not going to like his indecisiveness or his choice of lumber instead of logs. This is not a competition for the wishy-washy. Uh-oh… he is drenching the stack with lighter fluid and igniting it with a long-nose grill lighter. That is going to cost him degree of difficulty points. Although a grill lighter is not against the rules, experienced competitors highlight their skills by using a more challenging ignition source. Both are huge rookie mistakes, Jon.

PBPA: Right you are, Firewalker. This young upstart could learn a few things by watching tapes of your past victories. Winning this competition requires finesse, patience and an understanding of pyrotechnic science. I remember your win in the rain-soaked event of 1979. You proved that a little sogginess is never a reason to… what the…? Firewalker?

Ignoring his broadcast duties, Firewalker impulsively left the booth and jogged down onto the field.

PBPA: Ladies and gentlemen, it appears that the reigning champion cannot remain retired. Randy Firewalker has returned to the fire ring, shoved Wontduit aside, and is arranging a tinder bed of dried leaves, old grass cuttings, tufts of rabbit fur, and a sprinkling of pine needles. Above the tinder, in a crisscrossed fashion, he is repurposing Wontduit’s discarded maple twigs, augmented by a teepee stack of seasoned red oak.

The camera pans to the right to reveal the disgruntled scowl of L.D. Wontduit and the exuberant smiles of the Sumo brothers.

PBPA: Could it be…? Yes! Firewalker is using a flint strike to set his creation ablaze. There’s the spark. The tinder is smoking. From our broadcast booth, I can see a glimmer of orange rising up through the wisp of gray smoke. Now, the wood stack has ignited and the crowd is going wild. The Sumo brothers are holding up their scorecards — awarding the reigning champion an 11.3 out of a possible 10.

We have pandemonium in the stadium as the fans go wild. Uh-oh… someone in the crowd has knocked over the burning logs. Our television crew is scrambling for safety. The newly rebuilt stadium is now ablaze. I have to evacuated the broadcast booth as we send our live coverage back to the studios in Eau Claire. For the 44th year in a row, Firewalker remains the undisputed Campfire Champion of the Universe.