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Spelled out: Williamsburg’s adult spelling bee has final spell-check

Words to the wise: Williamsburg Spelling Bee founder Bobby Blue has been hosting the event at Pete’s Candy Store for more than a decade. Your last chance to join the word competition will be on April 4.
Photo by Jason Speakman

They are getting in the final word.

The organizers of a popular Williamsburg spelling bee are calling it quits on April 4, after hosting a dozen years of adult spell-offs at Pete’s Candy Store. The brains behind the beloved letter-arranging competition says recreational spellers are still flocking to the face-off, but they are ready to break the spell.

“It’s just as popular as the first day,” said founder Bobby Blue. “It’s not only challenging, it’s riveting and it’s fun.”

Still, it has been a long run, and the bee has flown its course, said Blue’s competition partner.

“Twelve years is an incredibly long time to do anything,” said Jen Dziura.

Blue, a Ditmas Park resident who classifies himself as an “average speller,” created the spell-off in after watching the documentary “Spellbound,” about wiz kids competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Each monthly competition has given 15 adults a chance to live out their spelling dreams in a three-round bee with a beer in their hand.

The pair originally thought the event would simply bee a bunch of people getting drunk and trying their hand at an elementary school novelty, but they found that people got pretty serious about their spelling and were more focused on winning than their beers.

“There was an assumption that people would be a little more tipsy,” said Dziura, who lives in Park Slope. “But people who show up are pretty serious about winning.”

The talent pool usually consists of a mix of novice spellers and regulars, said Dziura, who frequently trips people up on words such as “aebleskiver” — Danish pancake puffs — and one of the words pronounced “fare-oh,” which can be spelled in four different ways.

Each bee winner receives a small prize, like a dictionary or candy. The closing clash on April 4 will also feature cake for all participants, and a live rendition of the spelling bee’s catchy theme song, sung by the hosts.

This might not be the end for the original spelling bee — which has become so famous that “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” once modeled a murder victim on Dziura. Blue said the pair might host a few one-off competitions, and he is looking to get celebrities like the brainy Emma Watson involved.

But even though he’s looking to the future, he is still s-a-d to leave the well-known bee behind.

“I’ll miss working with Jen, the camaraderie of the people, and the whole thing altogether,” said Blue. “I don’t think there’s anything I won’t miss.”

The final Williamsburg Spelling Bee at Pete’s Candy Store [709 Lorimer St. between Frost and Richardson streets in Williamsburg, (718) 302–3770, spellingblog4.blogspot.com]. April 4 at 7 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Spelling king: Williamsburg Spelling Bee founder Bobby Blue says he has become a better speller after 12 years hosting the word competition. The final spelling bee will happen on April 4.
Photo by Jason Speakman

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