Rushville Republican

Columns

May 30, 2014

On the street with REALLY FAST food

My wife and I are resting up after spending one really fast evening together!

That is to say, we partook of the Speed Street Festival in uptown Charlotte, Nawth Caylina. Wait; what were you thinking?

This was Speed Street’s 20th year. It’s held in conjunction with the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR auto race, held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The See-ix Hunnert, as Nawth Caylinians tend to call it, has been running since 1960. I mean this is the 55th running of the race, not the same race that started in 1960. (Although if my brother Ken was driving, it would be. Slooooowest driver east of the Mississippi, that one.)

On its website, Speed Street is billed as one of the largest consumer events in the Southeast. That either means the consumers are large (I saw lots of those) or the attendees consume in large quantities (I saw LOTS of those, including, ahem, the fella I see when I look in the mirror.)

But there was also a public spectacle of large – REALLY LARGE – consumption: A hot dog eating contest, sponsored by Nathan’s Famous, Inc. That’s it, the whole corporate name. But c’mon, you know what Nathan’s is famous for.

The contest had a lot riding on it – the winner earned a place at the trough of competitive weiner-eating’s pinnacle, the competition at Coney Island, New York, on the Fourth of Joooo-ly.

The event was emceed by a guy named George Shea, who is, I kid you not, employed full-time as the Chairman of Major League Eating.

George had a great patter going, almost making the crowd feel like it was well worth it to broil like franks under the rotisserie of the sun, just in order to watch 15 people distend their stomachs to unnatural dimensions. And because he’s the Chairman of Major League Eating, he knows a lot about the contestants, almost all of whom were local, regional or national champions of consuming gut-busting amounts of one food or another (crawfish for one guy; oysters for another; oyster-stuffed crawfish for another).

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