ELIZABETHTON — One of the oldest competitions in Tennessee will be holding its 190th annual event Sunday in the Peters Hollow section of Stoney Creek.
Long before the first Super Bowl or the first pitch of the first World Series or the first run for the roses at the Kentucky Derby, people were gathering Easter Sunday somewhere in Peters Hollow to fight eggs. Its a contest that goes back to 1823, the “Era of Good Feelings” of the James Monroe presidency.
For the past several years, the egg fight has been held in Norman Peters’ backyard. It is a comfortable and spacious location with a big open field providing plenty of parking. Peters is a good host and makes everyone, even first-time visitors to the egg fight, feel welcome.
“This all started with the farmers of Rome Hollow challenging the farmers of Peters Hollow to see whose chickens laid the hardest eggs,” Peters said.
The egg fight helps make Easter a wonderful time in Peters Hollow. What Christmas has become to most of the world, Easter has become in Peters Hollow. It is a time when people who have left the region will make the trip back home to see friends and family. It is a time of reunion and remembrance. It is also a time of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Peters said Ernest “Gebe” Ritchie plans to attend this year’s egg fight. For many years, Ritchie acted as master of ceremonies at the egg fights but that ended when he and Peters had a falling out. That has changed this year, after Ritchie was diagnosed with cancer.
“I don’t hold grudges and I went to see Gebe after I found out he was sick,” Peters said.
As a result of their reconciliation, Ritchie plans to attend this year’s egg fight. “He said if the weather get bad, he will just sit in his car,” Peters said.
Easter will also bring an annual homecoming for Peters’ daughter and her family, Ray and Janie Rogers and Peters’ grandchildren Mia and Chase.
The family is all great egg fighters and they are known to bring some of the hardest eggs in Eastern North Carolina to the event.
Peters said the egg fight gets started at 1:30 p.m., with the contest for newborns and toddlers under age 3. They are permitted a dozen eggs each to fight with. The fighting is done by everyone sitting in a ring of chairs. Each contestant taps one end of an egg against a neighbor’s. The tapping continues until all of the eggs are broken except for the winner’s clutch.
After the toddlers’ contest, the 3- to 6-year-olds will do battle, also with a dozen eggs each. They will be followed by 7- to 12-year-olds, who get to fight two dozen. The competition then begins for the adults, from age 13 and up. They get to use six dozen eggs.
Trophies are awarded for the first- and second-place finishers in each contest.
Peters said the contests will be moved to the Stoney Creek Volunteer Fire Station at the bottom of Peters Hollow if it rains.
To get to the egg fight, take U.S. Highway 19E north from Elizabethton, and exit onto Tenn. Highway 91. Stay on the highway until the Stoney Creek Fire station appears on the right. Turn right before passing the station and immediately turn right again onto Peters Hollow Road. Stay on the road until you hear the sound of cracking eggs and the laughter of family and friends.