Central City Park going to the dogs

March 21, 2014 

If you don’t get your fill of pink pancakes at Central City Park this morning and you still have a hollow leg, you can always stick around for the Nu-Way Hot Dog Eating Contest at 11:30 a.m.

Imagine that. All the Nu-Ways you can eat.

In two minutes.

That’s fast food.

If you’re one of those folks whose stomach can make the transition from pink pancakes to red hot dogs in less than three hours, this is your kind of day.

The race to chow down on the most wieners -- or is that weiner? -- is back after an eight-year sabbatical.

And the weiner is ....

Linda Maddox is the executive director of Central City Park and special events coordinator for the festival. She also grew up on Nu-Ways, so she has been chomping at the bit to bring back the hot dog contest to the pinkest party on earth.

“There are hot dogs, and there are Nu-Way hot dogs,” she said. “There is nothing like them.”

She contacted co-owners Jim Cacavias and Spyros Dermatas, who gladly agreed to make a return trip to the festival schedule after holding contests in 2003, 2004 and 2006.

There will be a competition for children ages 6-12 beginning at 11:30. Everybody else will follow at 11:45. (The contest is free, but participants must sign a liability waiver.)

The kids will be fed plain hot dogs. All the other dogs will be blessed with Nu-Way’s famous chili, with its 11 spices and secret sauces -- a family recipe that has been safeguarded for almost a century.

“They won’t have mustard or onions, but they will have the chili,” Jim said. “We tried using plain hot dogs for one of the contests a few years ago, but some people complained. They wanted them all the way.”

I’m sure the folks willing to try and smack down a dog every 26.3 seconds or so don’t mind eating in front of a large big crowd and think they look attractive with chili stains on their chins. This is their gastronomical opportunity.

As a bonus, for the rest of the day they won’t have to tell anyone what they ate for lunch.

There will be gold medals for the winners, and Nu-Way will have plenty of prizes, giveaways and a trivia contest.

Here’s a trivia hint: Nu-Way was founded on Cotton Avenue in February 1916 and is the second-oldest hot dog restaurant in the country.

Only Nathan’s, on Coney Island, has been around longer and only by one month.

Nathan’s, of course, hosts the International Hot Dog Eating Contest every July 4th. It attracts thousands of spectators and millions of viewers on ESPN.

I don’t expect Joey Chestnut to be in the field for today’s competition on the stage at Central City Park. If he does show up, all the other competitors might as well start waving the white flag.

Chestnut, whose nickname is “Jaws,” is 30 years old and lives in San Jose, Calif. He is 6 feet tall and weighs 225 pounds, which must be about 95 percent frankfurter.

He is ranked No. 1 in the world by the International Federation of Competitive Eating and will be seeking his eighth straight title this year in Nathan’s Fourth of July contest. Last year, he established the world record by eating 69 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.

We can only hope he will one day dedicate his body to science.

If rapid chili-dog eating isn’t on your food bucket list, there’s always Sunday’s Pink Applesauce Eating Contest at 12:30 p.m. at the park.

Or if you simply love dogs in general and have a soft spot for other furry, four-legged creatures, the park will be calling your name Saturday.

There is a pet fashion show, petting zoo, animal alphabet parade, camel rides and the always popular Dixie Disc Dog championships.

You might even catch “Blossom,” the pink poodle owned by Paul and Alice Williams strolling around the park grounds. And next Saturday’s “Paws for a Cause” will give folks a chance to adopt rescue animals.

Reach Gris at 744-4275 or egrisamore@macon.com.

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