For about a decade, this scribe has been inking stories about local athletes -- usually teenagers -- traveling to Australia to participate in a variety of sports and cultural events.
When the teens return, I usually make a point of interviewing them again to do a follow-up story on their experiences Down Under.
Through the years, the common denominator in all the discussions has been Vegemite.
I've been told by the international travelers that the concentrated yeast extract, often manufactured by Kraft, is highly popular in Australia. Apparently it is used much like butter, margarine and other spreads are used in the United States.
What I've found intriguing is that every traveler I've interviewed has expressed an extreme dislike for Vegemite. Among the adjectives used to describe the spread are "nasty," "foul," "distasteful," "horrid" and "nauseating."
If memory serves, it was former PHS football players Daniel Dunn, Jon Gunzel and Brent Calkins who found Vegemite most loathsome. Even former PHS coach Dan Dunn described the spread as his least favorite thing about an incredible journey.
Through all those interviews, I've often thought that maybe those evaluations of Vegemite were offbase. How could a country of wonderful people enjoy the spread if it's that distasteful?
Wanting to taste Vegemite first hand, I rummaged through my desk at the Roundup to find several packets that had been given to me by visitors to Australia.
After careful examination of the spread, I must admit it is not exactly eye-appealing. The spread is dark brown and has about the same texture as the motor oil treatment I put in the engine of my 1948 Dodge pick up during my high school years.
Undaunted by the appearance, I tore open the tightly sealed package and spread a healthy dose of Vegemite on a fresh saltine.
Disregarding what so many others had warmed me about Vegemite, I bit, chewed and swallowed the cracker. After one bite, my evaluation of Vegemite can be best termed rank, peccant and arrant at best.
Now, that's just my opinion and I still maintain that if an entire country enjoys the stuff, there must be something tasty about it.
But, my best advice to all those traveling to Australia this summer -- including Bryce River, coach Teddy Pettet, the baseball players and Amy Wilcox --s, when the Vegemite begins to make the rounds of the Australian dinner table, your best response is "I'll pass."
Payson's Little Leaguers take to the diamond this Saturday when the 2003 season opens at the Rumsey I ballfield.
Opening day celebrations begin at 8 a.m. That's when the first of three games will be played throughout the day with players representing teams from the majors to the minor divisions.
Also throughout the day, there will be a barbecue and silent auction. Spectators also can try their luck with a water balloon launch, and a jump pit. And, a radar gun also will be available to check your fastball.
All proceeds benefit the Payson Little League.
The entire community is invited to help kick off the 2003 season.
Only the first 100 who register will participate in the 20th Annual Payson Community Christian School Trout Tournament to be held from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 3 at Woods Canyon Lake.
The registration fee is $20 if paid before May 7. On the day of the tournament, the fee increases to $25.
Registration for the tournament opens at 5 a.m. and closes at 7 a.m.
All preregistered fisherman must check in prior to participation.
The weigh-in, at the dock house, begins at 3 p.m. and closes at 4 p.m. Catch and release is permissible.
An awards ceremony will be at 4:30 p.m. at the Woods Canyon store. Trophies for first, second and third place will be awarded. The trophies will be awarded for the largest fish and total weight of all fish caught.
There is a six-fish limit per angler.
Entry forms are available at the Payson Community Christian School located at 1102 W. Lake Drive. For more information call 474-8050.