The hot, hazy days of summer beckon, and you’ll want something to do with all that free time. That is, when you’re not lounging poolside or, um, air conditioner-side. The season is filled with live eating contests to attend, or even enter. Grab a bib and take a Tums; here are some of this summer’s best eating contests.

Kansas City Festa Italiana

Kansas City, Missouri

Italian food fans with more-than-a-healthy appetite will want to make plans to visit Kansas City’s Festa Italiana, held May 29 through May 31. Competitive eaters hoping to earn some bragging rights can try the meatball or cannoli-eating contests. Live music, singing and dancing are also part of the annual event’s festivities.

Ribmania VI

Chicago, Illinois

If you’re in Chicago this June, then consider taking a look at Ribmania VI, held June 12 during the Windy City’s Ribfest Chicago. Professional eaters will square off for the rib-eating title; Miki Sudo won in 2013 and 2014, devouring almost five pounds of ribs last year. If you feel like getting behind the table and showing your mastication skills, then sign up for the amateur rib-eating event on June 11.

Read more about competitive eating.

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

Brooklyn, New York

Considered the prime eating event of the year, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York’s Coney Island brings together the world’s top eaters. The annual event, held on Fourth of July every year, challenges competitors to eat as many hot dogs as possible in 10 minutes. With the current records standing at 69 hot dogs for men and 45 for women, the event is filled with plenty of excitement. Can’t make it to Coney Island? In previous years, the contest has been broadcast on TV. Check your local listings for details.

Umpqua Bank Crawfish Eating Contest

Tualatin, Oregon

The Tualatin Crawfish Festival of Tualatin, Oregon is going into its 65th year. The Umpqua Bank Crawfish-Eating Contest challenges contestants to eat as many crawfish as they can in 15 minutes. Competitive eating records get shattered all the time, but this contest’s top mark of 170 crawfish has stood for 45 years. The contest’s 2014 winner ate 103 crawfish, according to The Oregonian. While well under the record, that’s still a lot of crawfish. Will 2015 see the record fall? Will you be there to witness it.?

Amateur Hamburger Eating Contest

Akron, Ohio

What is more quintessentially summer than hamburgers? The National Hamburger Festival, held August 8 and 9 in Akron, Ohio, is more than a celebration of burgers. It also hosts the Amateur Hamburger Eating Contest, in which contestants eat as many hamburgers as possible in 10 minutes. The festival also boasts an assortment of burgers from local restaurants, as well as a beauty pageant and bobbing for burgers.

Garlic Eating Contest

East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Vampires should probably stay away — far, far away. Everyone else should trek out to East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania for Pocono Garlic Festival‘s Garlic Eating Contest. Held Labor Day weekend (September 5 and 6), the garlic-eating contest takes place both days of the festival. In addition to bragging rights and bad breath, the winner receives a trophy, a festival T-shirt, and the opportunity to lead the parade.

If you want to enter a competitive eating contest, then take a look at the rules and regulations before signing on the dotted line. Knowing what to expect, as well as what’s expected of you, can make for a smooth experience.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at


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