A staple of backyard barbecues and baseball games, the hot dog has become synonymous with outdoor summer fun in America. So it only makes sense the hot dog is a popular food for eating contests at festivals and state fairs. And then there’s Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest, competitive eating’s marquee event in Coney Island on July 4. We’ve searched high and low for hot dog (and brat)-eating contests you can sink your teeth into. Here are five events to work into your vacation plans this summer.
1. Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest
For both casual onlookers and die-hard competitive eating fans, Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest, held July 4 in Coney Island, is the event of the competitive eating season. The contest culminates months of regional competitions held all over the country and challenges contestants to eat as many hot dogs — with buns — as possible in 10 minutes. Joey “Jaws” Chestnut holds the men’s record (69), while Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas holds the women’s record (45). Both records are within reach. Will they be broken?
2. The Rising Sun Inn
Coney Island isn’t the only place with a hot dog-eating contest on the Fourth of July. The Rising Sun Inn in Telford, Pennsylvania, is hosting a buffalo hot dog-eating contest starting at noon on Independence Day. Contestants will have 10 minutes to eat their way through as many buffalo hot dogs and buns as possible. The stakes are high, as the winner receives a package worth $250. And, in case you were wondering, buffalo hot dogs are made from bison meat. A chili cook-off and other activities are also planned.
3. The South Carolina Festival of Discovery
When you think of South Carolina’s cuisine, you probably think of barbecue. While there will be plenty of that at The South Carolina Festival of Discovery, you can also take part in the hot dog-eating contest held on July 11 in Uptown Greenwood, South Carolina. Contestants will have 12 minutes to eat as many hot dogs as possible. What’s the competition like? Last year’s winner ate 18 hot dogs in the allotted time. But there’s one catch: the contest is only open to South Carolina residents. Make time to check out the barbecue competition, live music, arts, crafts and more on the festival schedule, too.
4. Brat Days
While hot dogs may get the limelight, bratwursts are not to be forgotten. Brat Days, held in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, July 30 through August 1, is a three-day festival all about brats. In the brat-eating contest, participants are challenged to eat as many brats sans buns as possible in 10 minutes. The winner will take home $500 in cash, and get $500 donated to one of four preselected charities. One year’s supply of Johnsonville products, a trophy and bragging rights are also on the table.
5. Soulard Oktoberfest
Although the leaves change color and the weather gets cooler, eating competitions don’t let up in the fall. Soulard Oktoberfest in St. Louis, Missouri, lets those with a voracious appetite prove their mettle in a bratwurst-eating competition. The entry fee is $5. The festival, held October 9 through October 11, also includes a mug-holding contest, live music and a strongest barmaid contest.