With a mouthful of wieners and only seconds to spare, competitor Caleb Godvard was able to finish strong and force a seventh hotdog down his gullet in only three minutes to win $200 in gift cards and the golden hotdog trophy.
Hernando, Mississippi, got a taste of competitive eating and more at the inaugural Wiener Fest event Saturday afternoon hosted by Malcom Reed, owner of Malcom’s Shop and star of “HowToBBQRight,” a YouTube channel with 1.27 million subscribers.
Reed said Wiener Fest was inspired by the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest that happens every Fourth of July in Coney Island New York. “Why don’t we do something like that here,” he asked himself as the idea of the festival was born.
“We can call it Wiener Fest,” Reed said, “and it turned into a fun-filled day about hotdogs.”
The festival had free hot dogs and corn dogs for everyone, a wiener tossing event, a “guess how many hot dogs” contest, a kids sidewalk chalk art contest and Wiener Fest t-shirts for sale to benefit Palmer Home For Children.
“I started working with the Palmer Home probably over 10 years ago,” Reed said. “Over the years, we’ve just tried to support them as much as we can. Since we’ve opened up a business in Hernando, the Palmer Home has been our local charity of choice.”
Tyler Caravahlo, Social Media Manager for HowToBBQRight, was in charge of the wiener toss event. Contestants had two chances to catch a thrown hotdog with nothing but their mouths for the honor of making it onto the HowToBBQRight TikTok page, an account that’s garnered more than 500,000 followers since its creation in November of 2020.
Wiener Fest attendee Bryan Nguyen said there was no way he was going to miss Saturday’s festival.
“I heard that there was going to be free hot dogs today and I’m not someone who is ever going to pass up free food,” Nguyen said. “I’ve had a really good time at Wiener Fest. I’ve scarfed down quite a few hotdogs, hung out with some friends and saw all sorts of whacky stuff here today.”
Wiener Fest drew in people all the way from Louisiana. James Standard, a fan of Reed’s YouTube channel, said he heard about the event in a video and drove more than four hours from West Monroe, Louisiana, to make it to Hernando’s first ever Wiener Fest.
Standard said it was something fun to do for the weekend and a chance to use his camera to take some fun pictures, something he hasn’t gotten a lot of opportunities to do in the last year because of the pandemic.
In a world that’s normally dog-eat-dog, Malcom Reed’s Wiener Fest was able to change it, for a few hours at least, to a man-eat-dog world.
“Next year’s Wiener Fest is going to be even bigger and better,” Reed said.