Naperville's Ribfest to host qualifier for Nathan's hot dog eating contest
For its 30th year, Ribfest in Naperville will play host to an official Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest, a corn-on-the-cob eating contest and an unusual truck obstacle course.
This year's fest is scheduled for Friday, June 30, through Monday, July 3, in Knoch Park south of downtown, where the south stage will be the hub for the final qualifier for the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Championship in Coney Island, New York.
As the official contest for Illinois, the contest at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 1, is open only to people older than 18 who have registered at majorleagueeating.com.
The top male and female finisher -- meaning the man and woman who eat the most hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes -- will qualify 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 contest 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.
"It's the last qualifying event for the year," said Ribfest spokeswoman Erin O'Donnell, a member of the Exchange Club of Naperville, which plans the annual celebration. "People are flying in from all over the country and even internationally."
An hour after the hot dogs are downed, the south stage will host another eating contest, this one sponsored by Challenge Butter featuring corn on the cob. Prizes for the 4 p.m. contest include tickets for rib dinners from the 12 traveling vendors who will be barbecuing at the fest.
Throughout the event, drivers can take a ride through the Ram Truck Experience, an obstacle course the size of a baseball field that includes a 26-degree-sloped "mountain" for drivers to test out the truck's brakes. Other obstacles include a side hill, rocks, logs and articulation bumps.
Ribfest also includes a carnival, a kids area, business booths and musical acts. This year's headliners are Toby Keith on June 30, The B-52s on July 1, Shinedown on July 2 and the Wallflowers on July 3.