Some 20 hours later, I show up as advised. "Walk, do not run, and come on and eat cherry pie!" yells Nancy Grimm, who has been managing the event since the late '80s. Known around here as "the Cherry Pie Lady," she has lots of tips for the entrants, who are as young as two and as old as 45 or thereabouts. "The biggest rule of all is to chew and swallow," she tells everyone. Contestants take part in heats, grouped by age. The intensity increases as the heats progress. I'm almost hoarse from cheering by the time the 16-year-olds are up. One blonde sporting a high ponytail, low-rise jeans, and shimmery blue eye shadow takes a seat at the table. Her insouciance is immediately apparent. Then, as soon as "Go!" is shouted, she starts eating that pie as if her life depended on it. After she's finished, she shoots out of her chair and throws her hand up in a positively Olympian gesture. When she is crowned the winner, we learn that she is Casey Williamson from Riverview, Michigan. All of a sudden she looks much less like Britney Spears and much more like a happy young girl: a living illustration, Grimm observes, of what cherry eating can bring about in all of us. Grimm then proceeds to encourage the winner and, indeed, cherry lovers everywhere: "Show us your cherry pie face!"