MONMOUTH — In unison, a line of 10 kids smashed their faces into apple pies to start the contest, chomping at the mushed crust and apple filling.

Two messy minutes later, the kids pulled their heads up and removed their hands from behind their backs to clean up. Paper towels were passed out as the contestants wiped pie off mouths, chins and nostrils, and the judges weighed what was left in the aluminum pans.

Emily Cote, 6, of Monmouth said she enjoyed her first pie-eating contest at the town’s AppleFest on Saturday afternoon.

“I like the pie,” said Emily, after collecting her participation ribbon and what was left of her pie.

Another contestant, Ethan Larrabee, 14, of Monmouth, said he came in second last year but he didn’t do as well this year.

“Because last time I could see the bottom,” Larrabee said when asked how he did better the year before. “Not as good. Not my best.”

The pie-eating contest has been held at the Monmouth AppleFest since 2007, said Audrey Walker, chairwoman of the AppleFest for the Monmouth Museum. She said it’s gotten more hectic in the last couple of years.

“The parents, in particular, have really gotten into it, and the kids are really into it,” Walker said. “To me it’s not my favorite thing to watch, but there’s a certain audience there for it.”

Monmouth Museum started the festival celebrating apples in 1989 as a way to raise money for the organization. Over the years, other community groups have added their own events, such as a 5-kilometer race and craft booths, said Nancy Ludewig, a trustee of the Monmouth Museum.

“It has expanded in part because we’re trying to develop more of a sense of community,” she said.

Main Street was closed to traffic during the day, and people could visit the museum’s several old buildings in downtown Monmouth for free.

The festival usually draws around 1,500 people, but Ludewig said more probably came out this year because of the warm temperatures. Both the 5K race and the United Church of Monmouth’s breakfast reported more attendees than last year, she said.

“It’s a wonderful, small-town event, and except for two years ago, when we had a little rain, we’ve had some great weather,” Ludewig said.