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EAU CLAIRE, Mich. (AP) — An agricultural tourism pioneer who founded a cherry pit-spitting competition that drew international competitors and attention to southwest Michigan has died at the age of 88.

Herb Teichman launched the International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship in the 1970s as a lark, but also to mark the region’s tart cherry harvest. The “Pit Spit” became a popular attraction and the 45th annual event was held last summer.

Teichman and his wife, Liz, owned Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm near Eau Claire. He opened the farm for pick-your-own fruit harvests and later founded the competition.

His daughter, Lynnell Sage, tells the South Bend Tribune that her father “liked seeing other people enjoy the farm” and “wanted to share the beauty that is here.”

A local funeral home says Teichman died Monday at a hospice center.