One of the highlights of every state fair is the competitions. There are competitions to pick the best produce in the state, the best livestock in the state, the best bakers, cooks and barbecue masters. But the best state fair competitions of all are the eating contests, where the elites of eating battle to see who can eat the most food the fastest. It’s at these state fair eating competitions where records are set and legends are made.
Whether you find eating competitions a repulsive display of opulence or a celebration of gluttonous titans, it’s hard to deny that this pastime is part of the fabric of American culture. Eating competitions in America go beyond plunging your face into pie and seeing how many Nathan’s hot dogs you can throw back. Here are some of the strangest state fair eating contests, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
World Cheese Curd Eating Championship | Wisconsin State Fair
Wisconsin prides itself on being “America’s Dairyland.” Out of all the milk that is produced in Wisconsin, about 90% of it gets turned into cheese, making Wisconsin one of the leading cheese producers in the United States. So it’s only natural that the Wisconsin State Fair is hosting the inaugural World Cheese Curd Eating Championship. Competitors have six minutes to eat as many cheese curds as they can in what is going to be the first time a world record will be set for cheese curd eating. The winner will go home with a prize package worth $4,000.
Cream Puff Eating Contest | Wisconsin State Fair
Speaking of “America’s Dairyland,” the Wisconsin State Fair is also home to the Cream Puff Eating Contest, a series of competitions that separate eaters by age (children can compete as well as adults) and even status. There is a Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Contest where local stars such as radio personalities, local journalists and pageant winners gorge themselves on cream puffs. Unlike many other competitions which focus on the amount competitors eat, this contest is about speed, meaning the first to polish off three full-size cream puffs wins.
Sushi Eating Contest | Bangor State Fair (Maine)
Most people may think that sushi is the kind of food you want to eat in moderate portions. But the competitive eaters who decide to participate in Maine’s Bangor State Fair Sushi Eating Contest can’t get enough raw fish. Each contestant gets five containers holding about two to three rolls worth of sushi. It may not look like much, but sushi is deceivingly dense. The average sushi roll has about 500 calories, 550 if you’re enjoying a shrimp roll with additional condiments. So competitors are racing to eat anywhere from 5,000 to 8,250 calories!
Chug-a-Lug Contest | Iowa State Fair
Ever since we were children, we’ve been told how important it is to finish our milk. We were motivated by the notion that gulping a glass of milk would help us grow big and strong. In the Iowa State Fair’s Chug-a-Lug Contest, kids compete to see who can finish their milk first. Children are selected from the crowd and given a 12-ounce container they must “chug” as fast as they can.
Minnesota Cottage Cheese Eating Contest
Cottage cheese is one of the most peculiar substances in the dairy world. It’s milky but it’s cheese, it’s fresh but it’s made of curdled milk, and compared to other foods being consumed at eating contest, cottage cheese happens to be one of the healthiest – at least when eaten in moderation, which is not a word you could use to describe the Minnesota Cottage Cheese Eating Contest. At this unofficial state fair contest, fairgoers rush the “Moo Stage” outside of the fairground barns to watch contestants eat as much cottage cheese as possible in three minutes.
Bacon Eating Contest | Virginia State Fair
Bacon is one of America’s favorite breakfast meats, so for many, the Virginia State Fair Bacon Eating Contest is the dream food competition. Each contestant gets a half pound of cooked bacon. Whoever finishes their heaping helping of bacon first wins a year’s supply of Smithfield bacon. Because that’s exactly what you want right after eating a bunch of bacon – MORE BACON!
Hot Beef Sundae Eating Contest | New York State Fair
The hot beef sundae looks like an ice cream sundae, but instead of sweet treats it’s a ball of mashed potatoes covered in beef and gravy, topped with corn, cheese and a cherry tomato on top. It’s a favorite in many state fairs across the nation, but at the New York State Fair, the hot beef sundae is the center of one of the most peculiar eating contest in the United States. Not only are contestants, nicknamed “gobblers,” racing to see who can finish a sundae the fastest, but they’re doing it blindfolded and with no hands. The first to lick the bowl clean is crowned the winner.
Sloppy Joe Eating Contest | D.C. State Fair
The D.C. State Fair held in Washington D.C. is home to an array of strange contests. There’s a hula-hooping contest, a limbo contest and even a double-dutch jump rope contest. But when it comes to eating competitions, eager contestants sign up for the Sloppy Joe eating contest. Competitors have three minutes to eat as many Sloppy Joe sandwiches as they can, which is harder than it sounds. Anyone who grew up eating Sloppy Joes knows just how difficult it can be to eat a bun full of soupy ground beef without spilling the bun’s contents all over. This contest is only for adults, but kids wanting to get in on competitive eating can sign up for the D.C. State Fair Ice Cream Eating Contest.