By Kaylee Lindenmuth
SHENANDOAH - About 16 contestants squared off in a contest Saturday evening to make their best bundookies, or Lithuanian meatballs, in an event benefiting the William "Babe" Conroy Memorial Scholarship Fund
The contest is in its second year and was held at the Glover's Hill Athletic Club before a packed crowd.
"It started with a couple of friends sitting around a kitchen table, and we did some cook-offs amongst each other, and we were sitting around talking about bundookies and who makes the best, and then a light bulb went off in my head: why don't we make it a big competition and do it as a fundraiser for my dad's scholarship fund?" said Brian Conroy about the event's origins. "This is our second year, we had great success last year."
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The annual scholarship is awarded to a four-year Shenandoah Valley High School baseball player pursuing post-secondary education, at college or a technical school. The scholarship was started by the Conroy family, with Brian, his three brothers, and his mother contributing.
"We just chucked in $200 every year and gave out a $1000 scholarship in my dad's name to a Shenandoah Valley senior baseball player who played all four years in baseball," added Brian Conroy. "The backstory is, my dad was a baseball coach at Shenandoah Valley for 16 years."
"We want to get bigger and better, because we want to give more every year," added Brian Conroy.
Ten judges, consisting of family friends, local officials and local celebrities, sampled nearly 20 entries throughout the event. Judges included Haley Bianco from WBRE/WYOU, Mayor Andrew Szczyglak, Lukashunas, Mark Kowalonek, Daniel Salvadore, and Jenna Velazquez, R&D director for Mrs T's Pierogies.
"It's just a mix of friends and local community businesspeople," said Brian Conroy.
Haley Bianco was invited to judge the contest after Lukashunas appeared on PA Live, which she hosts.
"This was my first time judging a food eating contest, it was very fun," said Bianco of the experience. "My first time eating a bundookie was actually yesterday, I had them on PA Live."
In addition, the contest winner will be invited to PA Live to share their winning meatballs with all of northeastern Pennsylvania.
"It was a really great community event, I'm glad everyone came out to support this scholarship fund so a local kid can get a great education at school," added Bianco. "School is super expensive, and having scholarships is a really important thing, and education is really important, so I'm glad that I was able to help out and have fun along the way with it."
Along with the contest, the event featured all-you-can-eat food for attendees, live entertainment, a 50/50, a raffle table, and door prizes, all of which were donated.
Winning the contest was Janet Antz.
Sherry Streeter contributed to this report
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