Folks in Peters Hollow prepared for egg fight

By Rozella Hardin
STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com

   It's time for the Easter egg fight in Norman Peters' yard on Peters Hollow in Stoney Creek.
   After church is over around noon Easter Sunday and everyone has had dinner, families will be on their way either to take part in the fight or watch the event. It will be good, clean fun either way.
   The Peters, Taylors, Nidiffers, Grindstaffs, and a good number of other families who live on Stoney Creek, in town, or in other places not too far away will be there to have a hand in the fight.
   Norman and Patsy Peters have hosted the event for the past two years. Prior to that, the egg fight was held for a number of years at the home of Norman's parents, Buster and Maggie Peters.
   "We don't have as many as we used to," said Patsy, who Thursday evening was coloring her arsenal of 40 to 45 dozen hard-boiled eggs. The egg fight will be held in her backyard. Her husband, Norman, is a previous winner and always looks forward to the annual event.
   "It's a big event for the family and community," said Patsy, who eagerly looks forward to family and friends coming home just for the fight. "It's like a big reunion," she added.
   How did it all come about? The history of the egg fight is a long but scantily known one. More than 200 years ago, the men of Rome Hollow on Stoney Creek challenged the men of Peters Hollow to an egg fight. It has become a tradition since then.
   The uninitiated may have some vague idea of what an Easter egg fight is. "I fight you" is the challenge of one participant to another man, woman or child. An egg in the cupped hand, the challenged lets the challenger hit his/her egg with one of his/her own, point on point.
   The competitor whose egg gets cracked, hands his/her's egg over to the other. The egg is placed in a basket, bag, or some kind of container, no longer to be used in the fight.
   As the fight progresses, the number of cracked eggs out of competition increases. One by one the contestants run short of eggs and fall by the wayside until the last two are left. The crowd following them crane their necks to get a glimpse of the proceedings until it is all over. Whoever has the last uncracked egg emerges as winner of the fight and is champion.
   What happens with all of the cracked eggs after the fight? Egg salad? Deviled eggs? Possibly. Patsy Peters said most people take the cracked eggs home with them, especially if they are fresh. "A long time ago, they would take the fresh eggs to places like the children's home, where they could be used, but now, the fighter usually takes them home with them. And, of course, some of them are thrown away," she said.
   Like most of the other egg fighters who attend the event, Norman and Patsy buy their eggs at the grocery store and color them with commercial dye or food coloring. However, there was a time when fighters had their own special hens which produced the champion egg.
   Many remember the former egg fighter Ray Lowe who had both a little red hen and a little yellow hen, which produced prize winning eggs.
   Usually, the competition is held outside, and most of the time the weather is just fine for the event. However, there have been a few occasions when it has rained and a couple of times when there has been snow flurries.
   One such event was in 1959, when the egg fight had to be moved into Mrs. Ray Lowe's living room and kitchen when it began snowing. The snow later turned to rain.
   For many years the fight was held at the home of Mike and Lucy Buckles Peters. Later, their daughter, Lottie Peters Lowe and her husband, Ray, hosted the event.
   Ray Lowe is credited with the most wins. He won seven times, and may have won more except that his champion egg-laying hens kept having bad luck. Two of his hens died and one hung herself.
   Ruth Jones was runner-up in the egg fight seven times before she finally won it in 1968 and 1969.
   "They'll start coming early, usually right after church. They come with their eggs and lawn chairs, and they stay until the last egg is cracked. Some stay the entire afternoon," said Patsy.
   "We enjoy everyone who comes. We're looking for about 200 people this year," she said.
   Peters Hollow is located about 10 miles north on U.S. Highway 91 in Stoney Creek. The Stoney Creek Fire Department is located at the Peters Hollow turn-off. "Just continue up the hollow until you see a lot of cars and people, and that's where the fight will be. You can't miss it," said Patsy.
   Norman has won the fight only one time. "That was 30 years ago. I'm going to give it my best effort this year," he said.