MISSION — Nachos and sweat. Their aroma was thick, and although the food looked delectable, people opted to partake in the latter Saturday afternoon, here at the 5×5 Brewing Company where displays of strength lured people to the men and women pulling a military vehicle as far as they could, sweat dripping down their face and resolve in their hearts.

In walking through the brewery’s parking lot, one could hear the roar of people cheering and the rock music soaring — a rousing display befitting of the feats of strength to behold. And there were many to witness.

Gabriel Peña, a professional strongman competitor from the Rio Grande Valley, partnered with the 5×5 Brewing Co. on Saturday to host the annual BeerStone 2022 strongman event for the second year.

Competitors from across the country came to Mission for a chance to prove their strength by competing in various strongman and brewery-themed events.

The athletes competed in events such as a keg toss, military vehicle pull and a Húsafell carry, inspired by the Húsafell Stone in Iceland. 

According to George Rice, 5×5 co-founder, last year’s event had 30 people compete. This year they had a total of 84 competitors.

Rice said there is much interest in strength competitions in the Valley and hopes that by bringing events such as the Iceland Húsafell carry, they will attract more attention.

David Accardo, a native of Houston and “strength nerd,” said he has always been interested in old-time strongman competitions. During his research, he came across the story of the Húsafell Stone in Iceland. The stone weighs 409 pounds and has been used in previous strongman competitions in Europe. 

Accardo said that during his last trip to Iceland he created a mold of the stone so that he could recreate it when he returned home. 

“We have three different weights of the exact size of the Húsafell stone. We have a 200-, 300-, and 409-pound, which is the actual weight of the stone,” said Accardo, adding that he wanted to bring that experience to the strongman events in South Texas. “Honestly, I just wanted to give people that are in (the strongman community) a chance to touch the real stone. I wanted a way to create a mold where I can give the people down in Mission, Texas a chance to touch a real Húsafell stone of the exact size, shape, and weight.”

Crowds formed for each competition. Family members were cheering, yelling “let’s go!” at their relatives as they competed in the events.

Julia Hamilton of Austin competes in the truck pull competition at 5×5 Brewery on Saturday in Mission. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Josh Hatfield, a native of Seattle, has been competing in strongman events for about seven years and went pro two years ago. He said he came down to the Valley to compete in the strongman events as a means to qualify for America’s Strongest Man & Woman Tour of Strength. 

He proved his determination to the sport after facing a setback Saturday during the truck pull event.

“There was a slight mishap. I had 10 seconds left and I was coming up to the finish line and then the strap broke,” Hatfield said as he gasped for air shortly after competing, adding that the judges gave him the opportunity to re-try the last 10 seconds of his round. “Getting it going was the hardest part. I was already tired but I just needed to give it my all for 10 seconds and see how far I could get it.”

Although he faced another challenge, Hatfield said that strongman competitions are like any other sport, it comes with ups and downs but the main goal is to have fun doing something one loves.

For Phil Minott and Lauren Ryder from Harker, Texas, strongman competitions are a family affair. Both Ryder and her husband participate in strongman competitions, where they are cheered on by their son.  

Both competed in all the events Saturday, and although it was not Ryder’s first time competing, she said it was the biggest show she has attended.

According to Minott, he and his wife train together and he believes it’s important to maintain their competitive spirit and remain active.

The 2022 event also brought out the best in local competitors. For McAllen resident Pablo Adame IV, winning wasn’t the primary purpose to participate; it was all about the experience.

“With strongman every contest has different events, so you have to be a well-rounded athlete … I like the challenge and I really like being a strongman (competitor) so far,” Adame said.

Pablo Adame of Edinburg competes in the truck pull competition Saturday in Mission. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Adame has previously competed in two novice strength competitions, this is his first competing with the “big boys” as an amateur. He competed in the military vehicle pull and managed to go 25.42 feet.

He was pleased with his effort.

“I am really happy with how I did,” Adame said. “I have been pulling my pickup truck which is one-tenth the size of this, so I feel good.”

Accardo said that this year’s strongman event was more than just a strength test but rather a stepping stone for future events.

“This is one of the first-ever strongman competitions where the funding for the winners is exactly even for the women and men,” said Accardo, adding that each year the events attract more attention. “Next year is going to be bigger and better.”

At the end of the day, Hatfield took home third place overall in his category, Adame scored fourth, and Minott placed sixth while Ryder hit seventh.

To see more, view Monitor photojournalist Delcia Lopez’s full photo gallery here: 

Photo Gallery: BeerStone 2022 strongman event