Spittin', catchin', and slingin'

      National Tom Sawyer Days is a huge part of the holiday celebrations in Hannibal.

      There's fence painting, frog jumping, and of course, the crowning of Tom and Becky.

      But there's one event that girls look forward to every year... The Tomboy Sawyer contest.

      Watermelon seed spitting, minnow catching, sling shotting, and gunny sack racing -- not typical things for a girl to be doing on a hot summer day. But those rules were thrown out the window at the Tomboy Sawyer competition.

      "It's very enjoyable to see them try and spit. Somehow, it seems that boys can naturally spit something, but girls can't. And the minnows, once they get into it they're okay but most of them haven't really done much with minnows. But it's fun," said Tom-boy Sawyer chari Diane Klersy.

      Since the mid 1970s, girls have tried to be crowned the next Tomboy Sawyer. And almost every girl I talked to had a different favorite contest.

      "Sling shot," said Shelby Ellis.

      "Watermelon seed spitting," said Kaleigh Marshall.

      "The fish catching thingy," said Sumir Miller.

      Jade Bitting says, "It's hard to choose I like all of them."

      Maybe one of the biggest competitions is the costume contest. Many of the girls brought several props with them... Including a live frog. Some stuck to the common Tom Sawyer outfit... Others put a little twist on it.

      Megan Hull "I'm from Nashville, Tennessee and that's why I'm wearing a cowboy hat."

      "We felt it was important to provide something for the girls where they're competing against girls and had an event where they could feel proud and good about themselves," said Klersy.

      And they do. Many of the girls come back year after year.

      "This is my third year and it's my last year," said Marshall.

      "I did it last year and it was a lot of fun," said Ellis.

      "Last year was interesting. We had one of our first winners bring her daughter back to participate in the contest. So, we get a lot of interest, a lot of people saying, 'I did this when I was a girl, my daughter wants to do it'," said Klersy.

      Congratulations to this year's winner, twelve year old Shelby Ellis from Hannibal.