Every April, the good people of Sopchoppy, Florida, honor their local practice of worm grunting. This form of bait harvest involves driving a wooden stake into the ground and rubbing a bar across it to create vibrations that force worms to surface. This year’s fourth Worm Gruntin’ Festival will include a grunting competition and the Worm Grunter’s Ball. But the top event is the crowning of the Worm Monarch–and last year’s queen truly graced her throne.
“They gave me a shiny crown,” says 76-year-old Lossie Mae Rosier, “and a staff just like that pole Moses walked around with.”
Rosier started worm grunting in 1950 and raised 11 children on the money the bait brought in. When she was notified of her coronation, she was stunned. “They said they wanted me to be this bait queen, and I said, `What are you talking about?'” But she didn’t take long to warm to the spotlight. “With all those photographers snapping my picture,” she says, “there wasn’t enough of my face to go around!”
Rosier will crown the 2004 Worm Monarchs in a few weeks. “But I’ll keep my crown in a special place,” she says–near her old grunting tools. –KIM HISS