People are fascinated by spelling bees.  Millions of people watch the National Spelling Bee on television every year.  The networks know it will boost their ratings. Well, the Last Word likes big ratings too.    So, I traveled to Beaty-Warren Middle School for the annual Warren County Spelling Bee.  What is it about a spelling bee that makes people want to watch?  Why do we enjoy looking at middle schoolers, nervously standing in front of an audience and a television camera, spelling words that would make most adults stumble?

I admit there are some exciting plots and story lines at this spelling bee in Warren County. There's Liam Ferry, eighth grader and runner-up last year. Will he finally be able to capture the championship?

In a spelling bee, there's always the cute, soft-spoken underdog that captures everyone's hearts.  At this bee, it's Maddie Tidrick.  She is in the fifth grade and is going up against the older kids.  One of those is her brother, eighth grader Evan Tidrick.  Maddie even has to sit beside him.   

There's also the confident, strong-voiced competitor that always gets our attention.  That's Ian Lewis.  He spells his words with gusto.

The soap opera that is the spelling bee continued for several rounds.  We share the disappointment of those who are eliminated. Some of us remember that feeling.   But, the spelling bee is also edge-of-your-seat drama.  Everyone in the audience was silently begging Avery Galbraith to not put a second “e” in the word "gently."  She didn't.

So, how did the Warren County Spelling Bee play out?  The confident Ian Lewis was knocked out in the second round with the word “glittery.”   Our cute little fifth grader Maddie Tidrick lasted until the 17th round.  She was one of five students remaining.  But, she was eliminated by the tough word "inscrutable."  And, after 27 rounds, we finally have a winner.   Liam Ferry, last year's runner up, is now the champion outlasting Evan Tidrick.  Liam admits he was nervous.

"I don't look at the people.  I look at the microphone.  But still, a little nerve racking," he said.

There’s another interesting factoid from the spelling bee.  During a heartwarming interview, Evan Tidrick, the runner up, admitted that he did not want to win.  He wanted his sister to win.