The competition was fierce, but Simon Lazarchuk walked away the winner of the 50-Plus Gentlemen’s Challenge sponsored by Creston’s GoGo Grannies yesterday afternoon.
“I love competition, “ he said. “I think it’s fun to just go out there. And I love the roar of the crowd.”
And roar they did, particularly after seeing his talent, an Eastern European folk dance.
“I come from folk dancing roots, Ukrainian and Russian folk dancers,” he said. “And I do have Gypsy blood in me. It was a good opportunity to live the fantasy.”
The challenge was a followup to last year’s 70-Plus Queen Pageant, also sponsored by the GoGo Grannies, which donates the proceeds to the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which helps African grandmothers raising children orphaned by AIDS.
Mary Underhill hosted the event, with music by Monte Anderson, and a luncheon and goodies by the Grannies. The stage and sound equipment were donated by House of Rock, which used the room for events the previous night and last night.
Iain Bell, Poul Christensen, Ron Hurry, Doug Thompson and Chuck Truscott joined Lazarchuk in the competition. Each was introduced by Underhill, and paraded down the runway dressed in what they wanted to be when they grew up, which included Kenya native Bell as a game ranger, Truscott as a farmer, Copenhagen-born Christensen as a mariachi band member, Lazarchuk as a Gypsy dancer and Thompson in his clan’s tartan. Hurry wanted to be tall when he grew up — which didn’t happen — so he wore an apron decorated with pins of the organizations he’s volunteered with.
The talent portion followed, with Bell telling a joke, Christensen playing Amazing Grace on the trumpet, Hurry telling a touching story of his goldsmithing business, Lazarchuk dancing, Thompson telling a story and joke, and Truscott telling stories proving he could still remember the 1940s and 1950s.
Impromptu questions followed, with contestants asked random questions, from, “If you were a food, what would you be?” to “If you succeed at failure, have you succeeded or failed?”
Judges Martin Stanley, Donna McCready and Gary Deatherage decided quickly that Lazarchuk was the winner, with Hurry taking second place and Thompson earning third. Last year’s queen, Dolly Kaetler, knighted the winners.