These kids all have one thing in common; their sneakers stink.
"Repulsive, they smell repulsive," said Casey Adams, an eighth-grader. "It's like chicken poop and wet dog and dog poop."
Tuesday, eight finalists from across the country showed off their smelly footwear in Montpelier as part of the Odor-Eaters Rotten Sneaker Contest.
"Most of these things are pungent because they burn and the make your eyes water and they're also very, very putrid," said George Aldrich, a master sniffer.
The hometown favorite, Gus Morrow-Caron, 8, of Montpelier, had a pair that smelled bad to everyone but him.
"I think like fresh brownies, that's what I think," he said.
But it was Adams from Connecticut who came in first.
"Sitting there I couldn't even breathe it in," she said. "I had my nose plugged the entire time and so did everyone else standing around me."
The secret to Adams' success was her chicken coop.
"I walk my dogs at the dog park every day and I go and clean my chicken coop out at least three times a day," she explained.
"I have been doing it for 14 years at the national contest, and I can almost honestly say this is the worst in 14 years. Nothing has almost made me lose it like these here," Aldrich said.
"We are very proud of our daughter," dad Joe Adams said. "She has worked very hard at keeping her sneakers in the condition they are in."
A condition my own pair failed to match.
George Aldrich: You wouldn't even win a local contest, much less a national contest.
Reporter Keith McGilvery: I think I am probably proud of that.
George Aldrich: You probably are.
Keith McGilvery: That's an OK assessment for me.
George Aldrich: Yes it is.
And while most sneakers came in and out of the competition by foot, it was royal treatment for the winning, wreaking, rotten-smelling pair.
"We had like four plastic bags, and we had a huge garbage bag and one of those vacuum-seal bags and then we put then in a canvas bag inside another canvas bag... and then we duct-taped the canvas bag shut and shoved them in the back," Casey Adams said.
Adams' sneakers will eventually be unwrapped again and make their way to the Odor Eaters Hall of Fumes.
Casey Adams went home with a $2,500 cash prize. Her mom says a new pair of sneakers tops her wish-list for spending the money.
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