Pasty Olympians: St. Piran’s Day celebrated in downtown Grass Valley (PHOTO GALLERY) |

Pasty Olympians: St. Piran’s Day celebrated in downtown Grass Valley (PHOTO GALLERY)

With the flick of the wrist and the toss of the hand, pasties took to the air Saturday in downtown Grass Valley as competitors went head to head in what’s become a Nevada County tradition — the Pasty Olympics.

The pasty toss, the mainstay of the St. Piran’s Day activities, drew a crowd of the two- and four-legged kind to Grass Valley City Hall parking lot, where the cross of the St. Piran’s flag, the flag of Cornwall, England, served as the bull’s-eye of the target for the game.

“Here we have a two-handed offering,” Grass Valley Town Crier Paul Haas said, describing each competitor’s style of pasty tossing.

“Jane slides it right on the flag,” Haas said.

The irregular shape of the pasty makes for an unpredictable toss, to the pleasure of dogs waiting nearby for errant throws to come their way. The pasties were prepared with dog food, for the canine attendees, by Grass Valley’s Carol Kinyon.

Grass Valley Vice Mayor Ben Aguilar won his bout against Nevada City Mayor David Parker, bringing the trophy for the twin cities competition, and annual bragging rights, back to Grass Valley.

But Nevada City Manager Catrina Olson won her challenge against Grass Valley City Manager Tim Kiser, before the pasty toss was opened up to members of the community.

Fine art film photographer Mathew Besinger came up from Arizona with his large format 8×10-inch view camera to document the event. He has attended other Cornish celebration events across the country and has noted many have been reduced in size.

The Grass Valley Male Voice Choir, led by Eleanor Kenitzer, sang from a selection of Cornish songs and local historian Gage McKinney gave mock Cornish citizenship to a few of his students prior to the Pasty Olympics.

Contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez at or call 530-477-4230.

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