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The optimism increases with the amount of cocktails consumed

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As usual, a couple of unmentionable Spam sculptures were splayed out on tables at the annual Goodland Little Bar Spammy Jammy party to ward off hurricanes.

"Every year, somebody thinks it hasn't been done before," observed one of the organizers drily, before drawing attention to sculptures of the more thought-provoking kind.

These included the more subtle "50 Shades of Spam" - featuring a half-lifesize woman made of Spam reading a certain novel; a perfectly shaped "Spamdollar," and a model of the town's Margood Park appropriately titled "Spamlet."

The edible category in the contest included decidedly appetizing "Vietspmamese" meatballs, with ginger and sesame mango in lettuce leaves topped with shredded carrots, cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime. Or how about chocolate covered Spam from the Marco Chocolate Company – white choc containing Spam lite, and dark choc the higher octane version.

There were also Spam cupcakes, Spam nachos, spicy Spamballs and "Spamosta 'til October," with the famous potted meat mixed in with some rotini and cheese.

For the record, Laurie Diefenthaler of Naples breasted the tape in the art category with 50 Shades of Spam, and Emilee Lake of Goodland created the fewest judges' burps with her imaginative Vietspamese meatballs.

As always, the subject of whether or not the party actually shoos away hurricanes created speculative debate.

"Well, Wilma (which blew through in 2005 as a Category 3 storm) did its damage, but I think we did a good job in warding her off," said Pam Mull of Goodland. "It could have been worse."

Asked whether this optimism increases directly with the amount of cocktails consumed during the evening, Mull agreed.

"The more drinks I have, the better the hurricane warding-off effect becomes," she said.

Just in case, though, the Little Bar does have a hurricane warning system on the premises. It goes like this - four beer bottles hang from strings in a frame, and an official notice states: "Hang outside. When glass breaks, run like hell."

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