First Place Winner of the National Abraham Lincoln Competition
Dennis Boggs waves to the crowd after winning First Place for the National Abraham Lincoln Look Alike & Oratorical Competition on the Central Park Stage during Decatur Celebration Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009, in Decatur, Illinois. (Herald & Review/Stephen Haas)
DECATUR, IL - The winner of the Lincoln Look Alike and Oratorical contest Saturday said he has won a lot of prizes before but never anything like he was handed at Decatur Celebration. After defeating 11 other Lincoln presenters, Dennis Boggs of Nashville, Tennessee, was awarded a giant gyro made with 2 pounds of meat and a 16-inch pita that was about the size of his stovetop hat. Chris Droukas of Gyro King held up the massive sandwich for the crowd to see from the Central Park stage, while the judges tallied their votes. In addition to winning the sandwich, as 1st Place Winnder, Boggs was awarded a check in the amount of $1,600.00, as well as being presented with a framed certificate stating: "National Abraham Lincoln Look Alike & Oratorical Competition... The perfect representative of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln... First Place." The contestants came from all over the nation for the competition and were a part of the Celebration's opening ceremonies Friday. Overall there were about 300,000 spectators. The contest was one of the main attractions celebrating the weekend's theme, "Welcome Home, Mr. Lincoln." All of the Lincolns were asked questions and had three minutes to speak to the audience. Boggs was asked what kind of car he'd like to drive, and it seemed as if he had been asked the same question before. "I'm sure I should say Lincoln, but my mother works for Ford," Boggs said. The full-time Lincoln presenter has been at it for nine years and has performed in 29 states, but this was his was his first visit to Decatur, and he hoped to find some free time early next week to visit the historic Lincoln sites around Decatur. Boggs started reading about the 16th president more than 15 years ago. Boggs added, "If you read Lincoln, and if there's a little Lincoln in you, he will draw you into further study."