Sumner, Puyallup go head-to-head at sack races, volleyball, tug-of-war and pie jousting

Sumner wore white, Puyallup wore black.

Or maybe it was the other way around. It really didn’t matter, and neither did the scores.

For the second year, the two cities hosted their version of the Great America Picnic on Saturday, this year at the Puyallup Valley Sports Complex.

The sports included such popular events as flag football, softball and volleyball. Other competitions included sack races, a water-balloon toss (with water balloons tossed from a cannon) and something called “pie jousting.”

And although scores were kept, they did not seem important to the hundred or so participants.

This was about something else.

“Sports brings us together,” said Carmen Palmer, communications director at the City of Sumner. “Sometimes it’s hard for the community and the military to join together.”

Along with their families, most of the picnickers were active-duty soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

“We’re out here today to enjoy the festivities,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Townes of the 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.

“It’s all in good fun,” he said. “We have been community-connected with Sumner. The people are supportive of the military. This brings a cohesion within a community that you don’t get around the world. That is not as robust in other places as I’ve seen here. It happens, but it is not as well-organized.”

“Everybody will eventually be out of the military. Getting them plugged into our communities — that’s what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Tom Swanson, a member of the Puyallup City Council.

“It’s also a chance to honor these guys,” said Sumner Mayor David Enslow.

“For a lot of these guys, this is like being back home,” said Shelly Schlumpf, president and CEO of the Puyallup-Sumner Chamber of Commerce.

“They enjoy this area, and that includes their hometown values. There’s really a feeling of community. It doesn’t matter if they live here. They just want to experience this,” she said.

They want to experience the hot dogs, the popcorn … and the pie jousting.

“My wife found it on the Internet and we stole it,” said Chris Karr, technical director at Sumner’s Act 1 Theater and head referee/chef of the joust.

Imagine a rope maybe 30 feet long stretched waist-high. Riding bicycles, jousters begin their run from either end while attempting with one hand to handle the handlebars and with the other to balance a rather unappetizing oatmeal-and-whipped cream pie. When the jousters meet — whoosh! — pies fly.

“This is the first time I’ve pie-jousted,” said Ryan Holk, 14. “It was hard for me to control it. It was fun.”

“We liked it,” said Ryan’s dad, Daniel Pipersky, assigned to the battalion’s 63rd Ordnance Company.

Ultimately, Puyallup jousters outscored those from Sumner.

At press time, results from the scone-eating contest were unavailable.