Many have tried but only few have triumphed. To be exact, only 28 contestants amongst 130 brave souls have conquered the infamous Pizza Rita 5-pound pizza challenge. These true testimonies to talent gorged their way through 24 oz. of crust, 12 oz. of sauce, 9 oz. of cheese and 35 oz. of various meats and veggies to earn their rightful plaque on the wall of champions.
The rules of the challenge are simple: the pizza must be consumed within 30 minutes, only one person can tackle the monstrous pizza, substitutions can be made as long as the weight remains at five pounds and previous winners can only partake once a year following their victory.
Spokane's Torrey Lybbert holds the current winning record at 11 minutes and 48 seconds. In addition to a plaque on the wall, winners receive Rita Bucks (Pizza Rita gift certificates so they can eat even MORE pizza), a $40 donation to a charity of the winner’s choice, a stomachache and a pride boost.
In recent years however, Pizza Rita has seen a decline in people daring to try their hand at the 5-lb. challenge. In light of so little participation, owner Brian Dickmann will be adding a new gut-busting pizza challenge to the list: Rita’s Rapid Challenge.
“It will be a test of speed,” Dickmann says. “If someone can consume a large thin-crust single-topping pizza in under five minutes we will give them 50 Rita Bucks.”
The thin-crust pizza is meant to entice participation from those who are intimidated by the original 5-pound challenge.
According to Dickmann, Pizza Rita offers these contests for three main reasons: for charity, for fun and to demonstrate the true meaning of a “large pizza.”
“Everyone says ‘we have a large pizza’ but really, how large is large?” Dickmann says.
Pizza Rita hopes to begin offering the Rita’s Rapid Challenge this January. These challenges are not for the faint of heart, and those willing to eat his or her heart out can mentally prepare themselves for the physical turmoil by reading former Inlander staff writer and current contributor Jordy Byrd's testimony of the 5-pound challenge here.
At the turn of each new year, we jot down our resolutions. Some are sure to be those unaccomplished goals from the 2014 list, while other entries are more innovative and intended to challenge us to develop a new talent.
The fledgling arts education nonprofit INK Artspace is collaborating with the Spokane Public Library to offer a few early options for ambitious local kids to get started on their 2015 resolution lists.
These two workshops are directed toward ages 8-18: Girls Rock Lab, a series to expand musical and instrumental knowledge, and Pixel Playground, offering participants the chance to experiment with digital arts. Each program runs for two hours every Tuesday through the month of January, and welcomes students with or without experience. Both programs are free, and registration is required.
Girls Rock Lab, held at the Hillyard library branch, had wild success with its first appearance in August at INK's downtown space.
"The first time we did the lab it was super fun, so we wanted to go ahead and offer more," says Mischa Jakupcak, INK Artspace board president. She adds that girls will experiment with something new each week, from singing and songwriting to percussion and drumming.
Pixel Playground, offered for the first time at the Downtown library branch, immerses students in lessons in video game production, Photoshop and basic computer programming.
"We want all the kids to walk away with something they personally created," Jakupcak says.
While the first Girls Rock Lab had a great turnout the first go-around, INK Artspace leaders sought to expand to local libraries in order to reach a different group of kids. In the heart of downtown, INK is located away from major residential neighborhoods.
"We were able to reach only a very select group of kids, so we figured this time we would like to reach out to the neighborhoods where the other kids are," Jakupcak says.
Spaces are filling up fast and only a few spots remain for both programs. Registration forms can be found online on INK's website.
On Christmas Eve in 1914, during World War I, a true holiday miracle took place in the trenches of Messines, Belgium, when a temporary, unofficial truce was decided in honor of Christmas Day. Gun fire and explosions ceased as British, Belgian, French and German soldiers shook hands and exchanged holiday wishes. These men caught in the midst of war came together over coffee, tea and chocolate, joining in a chorus of "Silent Night" — a harmony that would echo long into history.
Now, a century later, carillonneurs (aka bell ringers) in 11 different countries around the world commemorate that remarkable truce on its 100th anniversary. Spokane's St. John's Cathedral is one of 78 carillons participating in the worldwide recognition of the Christmas Eve Truce, with Carillonneur Jonathan Lehrer — winner of the 2010 International Carillon competition — leading the cathedral's 49-bell carillon.
The historic, 90-year-old St. John's Cathedral begins the carillon concert on Christmas Eve, following its family Christmas Eve Eucharist at 4 pm, and again at 9:15 pm, prior to the Christmas Eve Choral Eucharist.
The ringing of the bells are open to all, and St. John's invites the Spokane community to join together in holiday spirit similar to one the expressed by the soldiers a century ago.
As the 2015 Washington state legislative session approaches, convening in Olympia on Jan. 12, interest groups all around are getting ready to make their cases for increased or maintained state funding. One of those is Washington Filmworks, the nonprofit tasked with managing the state's film production incentive program.
At an annual industry update last week at Nectar Tasting Room in downtown Spokane, Washington Filmworks' Director Amy Lillard, and Board of Directors Chair Don Jensen, shared successes of the year, and the organization's goals for the upcoming session.
Throughout this year, Washington Filmworks provided funding assistance for 13 TV episode (Z Nation), seven commercials, three projects at its Innovation Lab and one feature film (Captain Fantastic). That funding assistance was split roughly in half between projects in Eastern (51 percent) and Western Washington (49 percent).
Combined, projects in 2014 resulted in an estimated $33 million in economic impact for the state.
However, Lillard pointed out that even with those notable successes, Washington Filmworks was forced to turn away five big projects that would have generated an additional $55 million into the state economy. That's because Washington Filmworks' annual $3.5 million film industry incentive cap was spent by May.
Washington's film incentive program works like a cash rebate for qualifying productions made in-state. Funded by a portion of the state's business and occupation tax liabilities (corporations/individuals can choose to contribute to this fund, getting a dollar for dollar tax credit, up to $1 million), qualifying productions can apply to get 30 percent of what they spent here back from the state.
Washington's program to encourage filmmakers to work here is the fifth smallest in the nation, but interest in making films here is growing, Lillard told the group of about three dozen at the presentation last Thursday.
"We spent the summer looking to what we can do during the [legislative] session because it's hard to come up with the money," Lillard says.
While Washington Filmworks plans to ask state lawmakers to increase its incentive budget, Lillard says no official request has been determined at this point. However, if the state were able to take advantage of all the projects interested in shooting here, an estimated $24.3 million in funding assistance would be needed.
Anticipating the challenges ahead of legislators as they work to balance the 2015-17 biennium budget during the 2015 session, it's going to be a tough battle for everyone. The biggest priorities on the table are education, mental health services and the voter-approved class size reduction initiative.
Still, Lillard and Jensen urged attendees last week to reach out to their legislators, and to ask them to fight for increased funding for the film incentives.
"We know it's made a difference in employment," she adds. "We're committed to being transparent, and $24.3 million — is that feasible? I don't know."
When she grew tired of throwing on boring sweats on her way to work after exercising, former Spokane resident Danielle Hatch — now in Houston — began taking the comfy materials found in workout clothes and creatively piecing them together.
Georgie Wear products cater to a demographic of active women who don't feel the need to get all dolled up to transition from sweating it out at the gym to the rest of their daily activities. With backgrounds in fitness and art — she's a former member of Saranac Art Projects — Hatch gathered inspiration from her varying interests. Partnering with her husband, the idea for Georgie won the Rice University Jones School Owl Tank Business Plan Competition this year.
Like many modern entrepreneurs, Hatch and business partner Meikel Reece — friends since they were co-captains of their high school volleyball team — are using Kickstarter to raise $20,000. If they meet their goal, that money will go to a first run of Georgie clothing and an e-commerce site.
Based on the size of their pledge, backers of Georgie Wear on Kickstarter will have the option to pre-order products, such as various skirts and dresses.
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