The knack for shelling purple hull peas evidently runs in families. In a crowded field of 22 adult competitors at the World Cup PurpleHull Pea Shelling Competition in Emerson on Saturday, June 29, the top two pea shellers were a mother-son duo.
Ann Hollis, 82, of Shreveport, shelled 11 1/2 ounces of purple hull peas in a five-minute period, besting all other competitors.
Placing second was Mark Hollis, 59, of West Monroe, who shelled 10 1/2 ounces in the same five-minute heat. Mark Hollis is Ann Hollis’ son.
In third place was four-time former champ Marla Hanson of Springhill, LA, shelling 10 1/8 ounces.
The pea shelling contest is held annually on the last Saturday in June as part of the Emerson PurpleHull Pea Festival, an event best known for its World Championship Rotary Tiller Race, where souped-up garden tillers compete. But the sport of pea shelling is making inroads.
“I often marvel at how many folks show up to watch a group of people get up on a stage and shell peas,” said Bill Dailey, spokesman for the festival.
And there is indeed at least anecdotal evidence that the skill of shelling peas speedily does seem to have a genetic aspect. In addition to this year’s mother-son duo placing first and second, two years ago a daughter-mother combo took the top two positions. And there have been multiple instances of one sister winning and another placing second.
Despite this year’s impressive performance by Hollis and her son, their shelling was still considerably off the world record pace of 17-3/4 ounces set in 2007 by Doeleta Rone.
But Ann Hollis can claim a record of her own. At age 82, it is believed she is the oldest person to ever win the title of world’s fastest pea sheller, according to Dailey.
“She’s an inspiration to mature pea-shelling athletes everywhere,” added Dailey.
Results for each age category:
Ages 18+ (Pea Mature Plant Division):
1. Ann Hollis – Shreveport, LA, 11-1/2 oz.
2. Mark Hollis – West Monroe, LA, 10-1/2 oz.
3. Marla Hanson – Springhill, LA, 10-1/8 oz.
2. Patsy Lee – Taylor, AR, 8-5/8 oz.
Ages 12 to 17 (Pea Pod Plant Division):
1. Nyasia Davis -- Magnolia, AR, 6 oz.
2. Henry Robinson -- Emerson, AR, 5 oz.
3. Bree’Ohna Sublett – Emerson, AR, 4-1/2 oz.
4. Judd Samples – Emerson, AR, 4-1/2 oz.
Ages 8 to 11 (Pea Flowering Plant Division):
1. Lexi Samples -- Emerson, AR, 4 oz.
2. Claire Edens -- Springhill, LA, 3-1/4 oz.
3. Jamiyah Curry – Emerson, AR, 3-1//4 oz.
4. Anastasia Davis -- Magnolia, AR, 2-7/8 oz.
Ages to 7 (Pea Seedling Plant Division)
1. Imani Jackson – Fredericksburg, VA, 2-3/8 oz.
2. Janae Jackson – Fredericksburg, VA, 2 oz.
3. Kimora Jackson – Fredericksburg, VA, 1-5/8 oz.
4. Rachael Freeman - McNeil, AR, 1-1/8 oz.