The Zion's Bank team of Jessiqua Zufelt, Mike McCue and Devon Farabee compete in the 2012 Moab Adult Spelling Bee (Photo Courtesy of GCEF)

Moab adults will get the chance to test their skills in orthography and wacky costuming at the third annual Moab Adult Spelling Bee, a fundraiser sponsored by the Grand County Education Fund, which takes place on Thursday, Feb. 27 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Star Hall. At least 16 teams are preparing to compete.

The format of the competition will remain the same as previous years: three-person teams, with one member writing the word on a whiteboard for all to see, will compete in rounds until all but one team has been eliminated.

“The words gets harder after the first 2 rounds,” GCEF board member Valerie Brown said. “After the third and fourth rounds, it gets pretty competitive.”

Moderator and self-described word-pitcher Jeff Flanders said that with only an hour and a half to do the competition, the words must get harder closer to the end.

Flanders has moderated the event since its inception in 2011, choosing words that are used in national spelling bees. Team members get a study list of probable words in their registration packet, but Flanders said he keeps a list of undisclosed words on hand to use when the competition gets tough.

Last year’s winners, the Spellbinders, sponsored by Arches Bookstore and comprised of Maggie Wyatt, Katie Stevens, and Deb Shank, won on the word “asphyxiant.”

Flanders’ advice to this year’s teams is to “think calm thoughts, clear your mind, focus on the word at hand. And don’t look at the word pitcher; he’ll mess you up.”

Flanders, like many of the teams, will be dressed in costume.

“I’ll wear something stupid,” he said.

A prize for the best costume, voted on by a panel of judges, as well as for the winning word, will be awarded. This year’s top prize in both categories will be a ham, donated by Nicholas Foods.

Spectators are eligible for a plethora of door prizes, including gift baskets, items donated by local businesses and even music CDs donated by a national artist. Admission to the event is $5.

The Adult Spelling Bee event was first conceptualized by retired GCEF board member Annie Larsen.

“This is our first year putting it on without her,” Brown said. “It’s going well, but she was so good and so organized.”

Last year’s spelling bee raised a little over $3,000, GCEF member Melodie McCandless said. The money goes into the foundation’s general pool of funds to be dispersed through grants for local educational and school-centered projects that support their mission of enhancing the education of children in Grand County. They have dispersed over $70,000 since 2009.

The foundation is currently seeking additional board members. The board meets once a month to review grant applications and also participate in fundraising events like the Adult Spelling Bee.

“It’s the funnest board I’ve even been on,” Brown said. “And we accomplish a lot. We get our work done.”

Third annual Adult Spelling Bee supports Grand County Schools

“The words get harder after the first 2 rounds. After the third and fourth rounds, it gets pretty competitive.”

When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 27

Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.

Cost: $5 for spectators