PALMETTO -- Emma Holmes, 7, had already trained with family before the first Manatee County Fair pie-eating contest Saturday.
She came prepared wearing superhero goggles and a smock over her clothes so she wouldn't get dirty.
"We had a pie-eating contest at my house on Thanksgiving and she won," said Emma's grandmother, Donna Holmes. "So now she thinks she's an expert."
Children and adults put pie-eating skills to the test with a crowd cheering them, watching in amazement as they tried to predict the winner in each of four categories. None of the winners actually finished a pie although a couple came close.
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Emma's grandmother proudly sat in the center of the front row to capture the contest on a smart phone.
"She thought of all this herself," she said of Emma's goggles and smock. "Usually she's too shy to get up for anything, but pie eating? She's there."
Although Emma didn't win, she still walked away smiling with the rest of her pie. All other children in her age group yelled "no more pie" when offered their contest leftovers.
Five contestants competed in each category except for the adults with only four. Con
testants had five minutes to eat as much pie as they could using a spoon, their hands -- and some just went face first into their pies in desperate moments.
"It's amazing how long five minutes can be when you are eating pie," said fair director Jon Neuhauser over the microphone.
Pies were weighed before and after the contest. Whoever ate more weight was named the winner. Winners collected a medal and a bag of treats.
Twelve-year-old Jacob Cole had a large group of family members cheering him on.
"I don't even like pie," shouted Jacobs in response to their cheers at one point.
Skills improved as the contest proceeded to the adults.
Paula Giudice, 61, used a little wisdom and flipped her pie over and started eating it crust first.
"I took the advice from my daughter," she said. "She said: 'Flip it and eat it.' "
She had fun competing despite falling short of the championship, Giudice said.
"He still had some in his mouth, so I don't know if that was fair," she said pointing to eventual winner Matthew Seiler, 18. "But it's just supposed to be fun."