SUMMERFIELD - Thousands flock to Coney Island in New York every year to watch men and women flex their patriotic, and jaw muscles by eating as many hot dogs as they can within 10 minutes.
It's a Fourth of July tradition for many who make the pilgrimage to Nathan's Famous flagship restaurant on Surf Avenue to watch the 20 competitors live, while millions more watch the event on ESPN each year.
Last year, six-time world champion Joey Chestnut set a world record by eating 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Sonya Thomas set the female world record by eating 45 hot dogs and buns in the same time.
But this year Northwest Guilford residents won't have to go far to see their own face-stuffing, eating contest.
On Saturday, July 6, The Gardens at Gray Gables will host their very first hot dog eating contest, which they hope to make an annual tradition.
"We heard of Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York and wanted to put something together for everyone," Gray Gable's manager, Danielle Cottrell, says. "There isn't much that goes on in Summerfield and Oak Ridge during the Fourth of July weekend, so we thought this would be a good idea."
Some of the contestants are even "professional eaters" from as far away as Atlanta, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
Cottrell says she was able to lure in professional eaters with large prize monies - $1,500 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place. Each winner will also receive a trophy.
"If we don't have good prizes, people aren't going to come in and compete," she says. "We wanted to have competitive eaters come down and register to put on a good show for everyone."
The hot dog eating contest is slated for 1 p.m. and will feature Carolina Pride hot dogs. There will be adult and youth divisions, but prize money will only be awarded to winners in the adult division.
The July 6 event, which will offer much more than just a hot dog eating contest, will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will have activities for the entire family including bounce houses, corn hole and an ice cream eating contest.
"The Plaids" band from Winston-Salem will play live '70s, '80s and '90s music throughout the event.
"We're doing this earlier in the day so people can still have their evening plans," Cottrell says. "Come out and enjoy time with your family, friends and others in the community."
WANT TO ATTEND? The Gardens at Gray Gables is located at 4105 Oak Ridge Road in Summerfield. Gates will open to the public at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 6 and admission is free, but there is a $5 parking fee. The event is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Food and drinks will be available for purchase from the onsite beer garden.
LOVE HOT DOGS, WANT TO COMPETE? Cottrell says there are a few spots still open in the hot dog eating contest. If interested in competing, call her at 643-0005 or stop by The Gardens at Gray Gables to pick up an application. There is a $30 registration fee for contest participants.