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Pit-spitting the cherry on top of Orchard Days

August 5, 2018

It was the pits that brought smiles to people’s faces Saturday at Rowley’s Red Barn in Santaquin. Cherry pits, that is.

Men, women and children all came to Rowley’s South Ridge Farms’ on-the-farm market to spit cherry pits in hopes of being dubbed the cherry-spitting champion.

For $1, spitters were given three tart cherries to eat and then tasked with spitting the remaining pits for as many feet as they could. Contestants were divided up by gender and age into several different categories, and their spits were recorded on the chalk-measured parking lot.

Spitters of all skills levels competed for the title and bragging rights. Some spit pits 30 feet and farther. Attempts by others were a bit more “pit”iful, as one woman remarked.

According to Todd Rowley, vice president of Rowley’s South Ridge Farms, the event has been going for approximately 15 years. The origins of this particular pit-spitting competition lies in a bit of sibling rivalry.

Rowley explained that most of the Rowley family is involved in harvesting their cherries, and during some of those long days on the farm, family members would try to one-up each other with their pit-spitting skills.

“It’s always been a competition as we’ve been harvesting cherries,” said Rowley, who is also a fourth-generation farmer and one of the five Rowley brothers that work on the farm.

It’s hard to keep absolutely everything within the family, but when the Rowley family draws on other farmers or help, they keep a close relationship with them.

“We know where all the food comes from here,” Rowley said. “We try to keep everything fairly local.”

When not farming, some of the brothers lend a hand in running the Red Barn, the retail component of the farm.

“We grow cherries, apples, peaches, and the Red Bard has been our outlet for that fruit, and along with making ice cream and other things we can make with those products,” said Rowley.

Oftentimes on the day of the Cherry Pit Spit, the Red Barn makes an extra effort to lend a helping hand to the community.

“A lot of years we’ve had a charitable purpose, and so we’d donate all the money from the pit spit and also the ice cream sales for the day,” said Rowley. However this year, there was no sponsor. Rowley later explained that there had been a bit of a labor shortage on the farm, but that they’re looking forward to another productive season. “We always help each other,” he said.

More information about the Rowely’s South Ridge Farms and the Red Barn can be found on their website at https://www.rowleysredbarn.com/, on Twitter at @TheBigRedBarn and on Instagram at @rowleysredbarn.

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