Moab’s sixth annual Adult Spelling Bee attracted the usual assortment of wildly dressed participants vying for top-speller honors.
A total of 11 three-person teams took part in the event on Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Bar-M Chuckwagon building north of town.
The contestants took the stage in groups, with three or four teams playing at a time. After the target word was read aloud, each team wrote their responses on a white board within the time limit, then turned their boards around for the judges to see.
Moab Regional Hospital’s “Orthographic Surgeons” team comprised of Katherine Sullivan, Kira Withrow, and Margy Swenson ended up as the overall winners, spelling “hemorrhage” correctly in the 10th round, followed by “dilettante” as the championship-clinching word.
All 11 teams made it as far as Round 5 unscathed, but that round saw four teams drop out, with the Grand County High school debate team missing “allegiance,” the “Party Pooper” team from Moab Regional Hospital and the Grand County Middle School faculty missing “silhouette,” and the “Eyes Love Spelling Bee” team from Larson and Company missing “vengeance.”
In the first word of the sixth round, all four of the teams on the stage were initially thought to have misspelled “phosphine” as “phosphene,” but further investigation by the judges indicated that both spellings are permissible, so all four teams were allowed to continue.
Over the next couple of rounds, all seven teams still in the hunt remained tough, nailing such challenging words as “armoire,” “chevalier,” and “settee.”
At the beginning of the ninth round, a trio of women dressed as trees misspelled “moiety,” prompting word pronouncer Jeff Flanders to jokingly yell “Timber!” as they exited the competition. The Spelling Trees were sponsored by Central Utah Insurance. On the very next word, all three of the teams on stage went out on “languorous,” all omitting the first “u” in the word. Those missing that word were the school district’s “Word Nerds,” the Moab Grill’s “Windshield” team, and Moab Auto Group’s “Bee the Change” trio.
In the 10th round, both USU-Moab’s “Mardi Gras” team and the Moab Realty’s “Spells” team spelled “hemorrhage” incorrectly, leaving the Orthographic Surgeons as the winner.
The Spells, who were dressed in elaborate witch costumes, complete with a smoldering cauldron, ended up as the winners for best costume, as voted by the judges and audience.
Organizers said the event raised approximately $2,300 for the Grand County Educational Foundation.