Blacktip Island residents will celebrate the island’s ubiquitous beach sandspurs (Footius fuqeurus) this weekend by ripping up and destroying as many of the plants as possible. (photo courtesy of Forest and Kim Starr)
Blacktip Island residents this Sunday will pay homage to the small Caribbean island’s pernicious sandspurs—spine-covered burs causing pain for barefoot beachgoers—by ripping up as many of the plants as possible at the 3rd annual ‘Eff Them Effers’ festival, event organizers said.
“Sandspurs are part of the ecosystem, blah blah blah, but tell me that after you step on a clump of them,” botanist Archie Pelago said. “Hurts like king hell. They go by all sorts of names, but most Blacktippers call them . . . well . . . it rhymes with ‘put truckers.’
“Anytime you’re up at the top of the beach, you’re in the sandspur zone,” Pelago said. “The fest is payback, and we rip up as many as possible. And there’s prizes for the most creative way to destroy them, their roots and their seeds. We can’t beat ‘em, but we can give it our best effort.”
Judges said the event will take place at multiple venues.
“We’re focusing on the high-traffic areas where the footfuckers are most trouble,” Leigh Shore said. “Most of the sites are along the west coast, where the resorts and most of the houses are. We’re asking participants to choose one of the five zones we’ve marked out and rip up as many plants as possible. Then, at the end of the day, we’ll get together for beer and whatnot at the award ceremony that evening.
“Folks get points deducted if they fail to rip out the roots,” Shore said. “The big payoff, points-wise, is how creatively they dispose of the plants. The standard technique’s to chuck them into the sea, but if people want to burn them or grind them up, or what have you, they’ll be scored according to originality and effectiveness.”
Participants were eager for the destruction to begin.
“Nothing more satisfying than ripping up those damn things, and I mean nothing,” Alison Diesel said. “I won second place last year with my footfucker cannon that shot bundles of ‘em 100 feet out into sea. This year I’m aiming for first place with my footfucker soup—gonna turn pain into something delicious. Got a spicy bite to it folks’ll love.”
Not everyone was happy with the festival.
“Like them or not, these plants are an integral part of the island’s ecosystem,” conservationist Harry Pickett said. “Tearing them up willy-nilly will have unknown consequences going forward. Birds eat the seeds. Small animals build their homes in them. If people don’t want stickers in their feet, they should watch where they’re walking. Or wear shoes.”
The winner of the contest will receive the coveted Golden Flip-Flop award, a pair of gold-painted tweezers and a tube of antibiotic cream. Second- and third-place winners will receive t-shirts.
All participants and supporters are welcome at the post-festival beer bonfire. Protestors will be flung deep into sandspur grass.