A cloudy start to the day may have made organizers nervous, but at noon Sunday when the gates opened for the 15th annual Mango Melee, the sun started shining and the sky stayed clear all afternoon.
The annual Mango Melee attracted some 4,000 people to the St. George Village Botanical Garden for an afternoon of everything mango, from cooking contests, displays of the many varieties, to juice tasting and the mango-eating competition. In the last named category, two-time champion Olubayo Kaza returned to defend his title and had this advice for anyone who wants to try to down eight mangoes in about seven minutes – one handed, eat fast.! At his side was Akio Rawlins, no slouch himself when it comes to chomping mangoes, and the two staged a spirited contest. They left the other four competitors in the dust – or the juice, if you prefer – as they speeded through their fruit. Kaza had a slim lead as he started his eighth mango, but Rawlins was right behind and closing fast when the 2009 champ dropped his final pit and raised his hand as the winner.
While the “Mango Dis, Mango Dat” cooking competition didn’t draw the usual number of competitors, it did draw a long line of people eager to taste the contestants’ creations.
Marilyn Chakroff, the supervisor of the contest, said they had about 50 contestants, far fewer than last year. Particularly lacking were contestants in the professional category, where the only two entries were winners by default.