The event aims to foster community spirit by pitting local businesses and agencies against one another in a slew of competitive events, such as relay races, bike races and tug-of-wars. But the cup is more the mere frolic; it is a committed community service, according to recreation supervisor Jennifer Rice.
"This event really helps strengthen the city," she said. "By participating, local businesses generate money that benefits local services.
Since its inception in 1994, the Ravenna challenge cup has raised about $6,600, which allow low-income city children to participate in city athletic leagues and camps and have been invested in a fund that may one day finance a community center, Rice said. In total, the event has raised about $6,600 for these purposes.
The Cup also allows members of the business community to meet one another and employees within a business to interact informally, Rice said.
The worthiness of the causes, however, does not exceed the fierceness of the competition.
"Something happens when people get their hands around the rope," said Rice, in reference to the ferocity known to possess mild-mannered folks engaged in the Robinson Memorial Hospital Tug-of-War. "The enthusiasm is striking."
The enthusiasm to which she refers is evident in the number of enterprises competing this year: 15 businesses will be represented by more than 700 participants, according to Ravenna Mayor Paul Jones.
"There's nothing at all wrong with the spirit of friendly competition," he said. "The event seems to be growing in popularity quite a bit."
Perhaps the most popular event is that featuring the exploits of local chief executive officers. Last year, CEO's were required to run an obstacle course in attire chosen from a bag at random; many wore pajamas and little blue bonnets. In 1995, these leaders were placed in a tank holding a mud-peat moss mixture, where they searched for golf balls. It is unknown what they will be forced to do this year.
The "opening ceremony" begins at 6:45 p.m. today at Brown Middle School gym and will feature a series of three-minute skits performed by each team. The skits will reflect this year's theme "energize with exercise" and will include the use of props, some of which are reportedly too large to fit through the gym doors.
Teams will have Friday off to prepare for the trials of the weekend. On Saturday, the G.E. Ravenna Lighting 5K run begins, and will be followed at 9:45 a.m. by volleyball sponsored by the Wood-Kortright Funeral Home and at 11:15 a.m. by the Record-Courier obstacle course.
The Parker Hannifin 10K Bike Ride begins at 8 a.m. Sunday and will be followed at 8:45 a.m. by the ODOT Hot Shot Basketball Competition and the Robinson Memorial Tug-of-War at 11 a.m. All weekend events will either begin or will be held at City Park. The public is encouraged to attend; there is no admission fee.