After taking the last two years off for “training,” Brian Oun was ready to down some Peeps Saturday at the Broadway Market.
Oun won the first Peep-eating contest five years ago. He lost badly the next year, and took a couple of years off.
But the Lancaster man was back Saturday, wearing a T-shirt that said “Chillin’ with my Peeps.” After his daughters, Elana, 8, and Elyse, 10, competed in their age group, Oun again won top honors by downing 11 of the pink and purple marshmallow treats.
But Peeps were just a tiny part of the Broadway Market’s best week of the year, which attracted Oun and his wife, Tracy, their daughters, and their son, Elijah, 5 months. More than 200,000 – many from outside the city – will patronize the Broadway Market this Easter season, picking up sausage and ham, pierogis and pussy willows, colored eggs, butter lambs and more.
For many, it is a family affair.
Lynn Jakubowski of Batavia bought Easter cookies, pussy willows, flavored nuts, and a onesie with “You bet your dupa I’m Polish!” printed on it for her first grandchild. Jakubowski and her family ran into her aunt and cousins, greeting them with big hugs. Her aunt, Hilda Dylag of Corfu, was stepping and hopping to the Polka music while she was waiting. She came with her daughters, Linda Yohn of Corfu and Jane Bergmann of Clarence. Yohn said she brought her children every year, too, until they moved out of the house.
“I used to come with my mother on the bus,” recalled 82-year-old Janet Mrozek of Lancaster, who made her holiday trip with her two sons and grandchildren.
“We make every effort to come,” she said. “It’s a unique experience – all the wonderful people, the young children, the delight in their faces!”
She went home with sausage, bread, chrusciki (traditional Polish cookies) and chocolates.
Little Evelyn Caughel of Angola went home happy with a dragonfly made out of white and orange balloons by Chex the Balloon Guy, aka Paul Schuler.
“Last year when we came up, he said he was done for the day,” her mother, Melissa, said. “She remembered that.”
Caughel said it was more fun Saturday than last year’s trip, when she and her husband brought Evelyn, her brother, Ian, 2, and sister, Emelia, who was then just a week old. They enjoy carrying on the family tradition.
“I went when I was a kid. My mom grew up around here and went every Sunday,” she said, as she wondered whether her children would do the same when they have their own families.
“If they stay around here, I hope they do.”
Back at the Peep-eating contest, Oun had popped the 11th Peep into his mouth when “Mr. Peepers,” the contest emcee, called time after 60 seconds, so he doesn’t think it should count, but no one else had come close.
What did it take to win?
“I drank a quart of olive oil, took a shot of insulin,” he quipped, before confessing he ate a regular lunch before coming to the market.
Other age group winners were Chris Trzaska, 6, Reily Wood, 11, and Tajh Barber, 14. Reily and Tajh each ate eight of the marshmallow chicks.
The first stop Saturday for the Ouns was the Peep-eating contest, where Elana and Elyse tried their hands in their age group. After Oun recovered his Peep-eating skills Saturday, the whole family accompanied him to the market office, where he was presented with a certificate, a basket of candy and a basketball for recapturing the adult Peep-eating title he won five years ago.
The Ouns consider themselves market “lifers.”
Tracy Oun remembers coming with her parents, then the couple began seeing each other.
“We’ve been coming here together for 16 or 17 years,” Brian Oun said. “It’s just fun.”
Market workers are quick to point out that the market is open year-round. Hours of operation this week are today, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.