And the crowd roared again.

Patrick froze. Now everyone would be watching him.

“On with the program,” shouted Colonel Futz.

“Follow me.” Colonel Futz beckoned to Patrick and Lutz. They followed him along the table.

“You will begin here,” instructed Colonel Futz, placing Lutz in front of a soup bowl filled with brown liquid.

“And you, my boy, here.”

Patrick looked at his bowl. To his relief it looked normal. There were bits of lettuce, celery, and other plants floating in the soup. It looked like regular, old vegetable soup.

“Judges, your aprons, please,” instructed Colonel Futz who had returned to the podium.

Several assistants ran up to Patrick and Lutz. They tied on huge white aprons. The apron ran from under Patrick’s chin down to his toes. Next, they fastened goggles around his head that went over his glasses. Finally, they placed a plastic bag over his hair.

“On your mark, get set, SOUP!” shouted Colonel Futz. He clanged a bell to start the competition.

Colonel Futz, Putz and Butz grabbed spoons that were the size of fly swatters, and started shoveling gobs of soup into their mouths. Lutz and Patrick sat frozen, staring at the other judges.

“Come on, you have to get going,” encouraged one of the assistants, nudging Patrick in the ribs.

Lutz and Patrick looked at each other, shrugged, grabbed their spoons, and like the others dived into the soup.

Much to Patrick’s surprise (and relief) the soup actually tasted good. After a couple of bites he laid down his spoon. Although it tasted good, there were more soups to taste and he did not want to get full. He wondered how he was to mark his score. He glanced around for help, but all the other judges, including Lutz, were bent over, their heads in their bowls. Each judge was quickly shoveling the soup into their mouths. Red, green, brown and black soup was flying everywhere. Soup ran down Colonel Futz’s chin, down his bib, down his legs and onto the floor. Colonel Putz shoveled soup so quickly it flew past his open mouth, drenching his head and antennas. Colonel Butz’s soup was flying out of his bowl and sloshing the audience in the front row. But instead of scooting away, the audience rushed to the stand, their mouths wide open to catch a taste of the flying soup. Patrick was dumbstruck!

The bell rang. The judges dropped their spoons. A voice sounded over the speakers, “And your scores, judges?”

Colonel Futz picked up his bowl and poured just a few drops into a jar.

“Guess he liked that soup, ladies and gents! The mark is nine on the jar.”

Next, Colonel Putz poured out his bowl, a little more came out than Colonel Futz’s bowl.

“Colonel Putz scores . . . eight on the jar.”

One by one, each judge poured out the contents of his bowl. When they got to Patrick, he poured most of the soup into his jar.

“Well, audience, it looks like our newest judge didn’t like that one. Only a score of three.”

It dawned on Patrick how the contest worked. If a judge liked the soup, then he tried to eat all the soup before the bell rang. If he didn’t like it, then he poured the contents back into the jar.

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Mr. Humdinger

Explore the further adventures of author Kurt Snow as he portrays Mr. Humdinger in "Mr. Humdinger Goes Fishing," a humorous, educational video about the commercial fishing industry that aired on PBS.

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