BANGOR, Maine — Alain Ducas found out Saturday morning what it’s like “to get tossed around in a race car” when he took a drive in a NASCAR simulator at the inaugural BDN Man Expo at the Cross Insurance Center.
“It was a great experience,” Ducas, 42, of Hampden said of his five laps around the track.
Ducas usually drives a 2005 Dodge pickup truck with a V-8 magnum engine.
“It’s not as fast as the simulator,” he said.
Ducas stopped off at the expo, presented by Friend & Friend, after working an overnight shift. Although he’s not a NASCAR fan, driving the simulator “piqued my interest,” he said.
In addition to the NASCAR simulator, the family-friendly event featured a golf simulator, hot-wing and pie-eating contests, an arm wrestling tournament, an ugly tattoo contest, indoor paintball, a mechanical bull, archery and a live performance by Paranoid Social Club. Vendors from insurance companies to dog trainers to craft beer brewers to tattoo artists have set up booths on the floor of the new arena.
Bangor High School student Jase Caron tried out the mechanical bull.
“It looks a lot easier than it is,” he said with a smile after being thrown. “You feel pretty cocky getting on and pretty beaten up coming off, but it’s still a great time.”
Drew Johnston, 13, of Hampden called his mechanical bull ride “thrilling and scary.”
Noah Greenlaw, 25, of Hampden tied Ben Small, who works for Friend & Friend, the major sponsor of the Man Expo, for first place in the wing eating contest Sunday. Each man ate 11.5 ounces of wings from Heroes Restaurant in two minutes.
“I get complaints that I eat too fast, so I decided to enter the contest,” Greenlaw said. “I was here to set up a booth for Vision Care of Maine and signed up for the contest.”
Greenlaw filmed himself eating the meat off chicken wings using a camera that hung around his neck during the contest. He said he would post it on YouTube, then, take his friends out to spend his $100 gift certificate at the restaurant.
“We are really excited to bring this fun and participatory expo to Bangor,” Pat Lemieux, BDN Events producer, said. “We think of it as a big party, and a chance to break in the new Cross Center with a truly dynamic event. There’s something for everyone.”
Lemieux said Sunday afternoon that the event had drawn in families who had tried out a number of different activities on what most likely would be the last warm, sunny weekend of the early fall.
“We’d love to see the Man Expo grow into a staple event for the fall the way the Garden Show is in the spring,” he said.