When James Laughead stepped up to an ice cream eating contest Sunday, he was in it to win. After claiming second place two years ago during the Windmill City Festival at Batavia's Riverwalk, the 11-year-old from North Aurora wanted first this year.
As the mostly blue Superman ice cream from Batavia Creamery sat melting in the hot sun and 90-degree heat, Laughead strategized.
"You've got to scoop it up with your mouth," he said. "If you bite it you'll get brain freeze."
In the end it wasn't Laughead's year -- he finished in second place during the 13 and younger category. But he walked away with at least a belly full of the tasty treat and got back to work manning the Emily's Hope tent at the festival. Emily's Hope raises awareness for diabetes and money for a cure in the name of Laughead's 13-year-old sister who has Type 1 diabetes.
The Batavia Park District ran three heats of the ice cream eating contest, separated by age. Kari Miller, marketing and public relations director for the district, said the contest is always one of the most popular traditions of the Windmill City Festival.
With this year's heat, the contest drew even more people to the Riverwalk parking lot, especially as it was followed by a fire hose challenge.
Allison Niemela, interim executive director of the park district, said the refreshing activities were meant to draw people out who might not otherwise brave the heat.
"It's a great way to cool down on a 90-degree day," Niemela said.
Alyssa James, 6, and her brother Nolan, 8, competed in the fire hose challenge, spraying water toward a ball tied to a string between them. Alyssa beat her brother, pushing the ball closer to his side of the line, and soaked him in the process.
Nolan said he was glad to be wet, especially because it was hotter than when he competed last year. The family, of Batavia, has been coming to the festival since they moved to the city a few years ago.
"We look forward to it every year," said Tenesha James, the fire hose challengers' mom. "People are nice and it's really well managed."
The closing day of the three-day festival also included rides, food, live music and a morning 5K race.