It was like luring bees to honey. The first-ever Buzzed at the Bee drew a large—and rowdy—crowd to Leesburg Brewing Company Thursday for a night of spelling, a bit of trivia and a lot of bribery, with all money exchanged going to Loudoun Literacy Council.
The adult spelling bee, a collaboration of Loudoun Literacy and Loudoun Now, raised at least $1,500. Loudoun Literacy provides free and low-cost English courses, as well as one-on-one tutoring, to individuals and families.
About 30 people signed up to spell at the event, cheered on—and in many cases heckled—by the audience that filled every available seat in the restaurant.
Spellers were challenged with words like googol, hemorrhoids, formication and Renss Greene, Loudoun Now reporter and the voice of the Morning Minute podcast. Greene and Loudoun Literacy Executive Director Sarah Ali served as the bee’s emcees and judges. Contestants also were asked to define terms like selfie, finsta, twerk, and jeggings.
Jennifer Montgomery, executive director of Loudoun Hunger Relief, correctly spelled the word phlegm but got held up with hemorrhoids. Karen Schaufeld, founder and president of 100WomenStrong, was asked what the text acronym IMHO stood for. She bribed the judge, which the rules allowed for, and asked the audience to help her out by lip syncing the answer. (IMHO stands for in my humble opinion.)
Spelling the name Matthew McConaughey caught Bruce Cook up. “I was an elementary school teacher in Fairfax County so I thought, ‘spelling? Oh, I got this.’ But no I do not.”
Steve Rice won the final round of Buzzed at the Bee by correctly spelling Renss Greene, but only after he was offered a hint.
“I’ll tell you, Renss is short for Rensselaer,” Greene said.
“Who’s that?” Rice added.
“It’s me,” Greene replied with a laugh. After Rice correctly spelled the name, Greene said, “I think Loudoun Now just got a new reader.”
While it appeared to be all fun and games, the spellers had plenty of reason to do their best. The prizes included wine from Fabbioli Cellars, dinner for two at Leesburg Brewing Company, and two tickets to Loudoun Literacy’s big event, Not Your Kid’s Spelling Bee on Oct. 26. That event, held at Ida Lee Recreation Center, will be the nonprofit organization’s big annual fundraiser.
Learn more about Not Your Kid’s Spelling Bee and all that Loudoun Literacy does at loudounliteracy.org.