First Posted: 7/2/2009
A select group of members from the Mount Airy Elks Lodge are heading to Portland, Ore. tomorrow for a national competition.
The competition will judge 44 teams of eight from across the country on the ritual ceremony they perform when they induct new members into the organization.
Every year we have a ritual contest. Its what we do for new members when theyre inducted, said Exalted Ruler Tim Eldridge. We take the ceremony and compete against other lodges.
First, the team from Mount Airy competed against other lodges in the state. They emerged victorious for the 11th time in the past 13 years. Now, they will travel to Oregon to take their chances on the national stage at the Elks Lodge National Convention July 5.
To prepare for both of the competitions, the team has been practicing at least twice a week since February for one or two hours at a time.
Theres a lot of prestige because we are representing our lodge, our town and the state, said Eldridge.
The 44 teams competing in the competition represent the 2,065 lodges in the United States. More than 3,000 people will be at the convention including the exalted ruler from every lodge, members, spouses and dignitaries.
The teams will be judged by four floor judges and two word judges. They are judged on appearance, word accuracy, word pronunciation, deportment or movements and impressiveness. Impressiveness counts for 50 percent of the final score. Each team starts with 99 points, with those points deducted for weaknesses in any given area.
Each position within the ceremony has a scripted part and members must be able to recite their parts verbatim from memory. One of the big things judges watch for is saying each word properly, such as pronouncing our as hour instead of air. For every mispronunciation or use of the wrong word, the team is deducted a point.
The Mount Airy team dresses in black tuxedos with clergy buttons instead of bow ties in order to make sure they are uniform in appearance.
In last years competition, the team placed 16th in the nation with the highest score this lodge has received. The best North Carolina has placed in the competition is 12th which this lodge accomplished six years ago.
The eight-person team from Mount Airy is made up of Eldridge, Leading Knight Tim Richards, Lecturing Knight Stonie Dunbar, Loyal Knight Mark Marion, Esquire Barry Payne, Inner Guard Kevin Conner, Chaplain Sandra Richards and Candidate Bryan George. They are coached by Mark Alderman.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.