Chatham — As New Brunswick scales its COVID regulations back to yellow alert level, businesses across the province are opening up, and beloved summer events are once again allowed to take place, including the controversial “swapfest,” an annual competition where participants are encouraged to spit into one another’s mouths.
“We’ve been seeing a steady rise in interest for the game over the past five years,” said Stephen Barter, organizer of the event. “So we were really concerned when we first heard about coronavirus. We thought that there was no way something like this could happen, but we’re extremely happy that the province will be allowing us to move forward.”
Thanks to the new regulations, the seven-day event, originally scheduled for May, will now take place at the Chatham Head Recreation Centre in Miramichi, beginning the Monday following Canada Day.
“As far as sports go, the rules are relatively simple,” Barter explained.
“Each team consists of six players, none of whom are allowed to move from their designated position. The first person in the line takes a mouthful of milk, exchanges it with the next person on their team, and so on down the line until the last one in the line spits it into this bucket. Whichever team can complete this process the fastest, wins.”
While the game has yet to catch on with the general public, its popularity is steadily growing.
“I guess you could say that we’re just ahead of the curve,” Barter said.
This event, the first to be live-streamed by major sports channels desperate for content, is considered to be the most significant championship known to the sport.
“Oh yes, it’s a big deal,” said Barter. “We’re flying people in from the U.S., Italy, Spain, China — everywhere.”
There are four teams competing from New Brunswick alone over the course of the week, including competitors from Moncton, Fredericton and Rothesay. Still, Barter thinks that his team has the edge.
“I’m feeling pretty good about our chances,” he said, wearing confident grin. “I honestly believe the Campbellton Carriers are going to take it home this year.”