Ribfest contestant downs 30½ hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes

If you're celebrating the Fourth of July this weekend, you've gotta eat a hot dog.

Even if you're spending the day at an event such as the Naperville Exchange Club's Ribfest - which continues through Monday, by the way, at Knoch Park near downtown - you have to try a hot dog.

Notice we said you should try a hot dog.

What you probably shouldn't do is try to eat as many hot dogs as Juan Rodriguez gobbled down in just 10 minutes Saturday as he competed for a spot in Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Championship in Coney Island, New York.

Because Rodriguez, of Crestwood, outpaced his eight male competitors in Naperville by eating 30½ dogs and buns - that's right, more than three every 60 seconds - in the 10 minutes allotted by the contest.

The competition was open only to people older than 18 who registered at

There were two women who competed, too, and Marlene Wigginton of St. Louis emerged victorious after inhaling 11 hot dogs.

Nathan's is flying both Rodriguez and Wigginton to New York, where they've qualified for a seat at the national finals.

"Illinois is known for great eaters," George Shea, chairman of Major League Eating, said in a news release, "and we are confident that we will find a local athlete in Naperville who can represent the great state of Illinois on our nation's birthday."

In Coney Island, the Naperville winners will face reigning male champion Joey Chestnut, who holds the record 73 hot dogs and buns consumed in 10 minutes and won last year's contest by eating 70, and female champion Miki Sudo, who won her division last year by finishing 38½ hot dogs and buns.

Ribfest spokeswoman Erin O'Donnell said the Ribfest contest attracted several hundred fans who cheered the competitors on and were dazzled by Emcee Sam Barclay, who introduced the competitors with a flair and English accent that made it sound as if they were knights going into battle as opposed to folks who really could have used a few more napkins.

"It was just phenomenal," she said.

  David Luthman of Aurora tries to keep pace in a hot dog-eating contest at Naperville's Ribfest. Daniel White/
  A reminder to attend the Jurassic World Exhibition at the Field Museum makes its way through Ribfest in Naperville. Daniel White/
  Patrons wait in line to purchase Johnson's Hickory Smoked Bar B-Que at Ribfest in Naperville. Daniel White/
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