The professional eaters who will wolf down burgers at this year’s Taste of Hamburg-er Festival will be doing so at a national eating contest.
Festival organizers have teamed with the All Pro Eating organization to orchestrate the Taste of Hamburg-er Festival National Hamburger Eating Championship, presented by Red Robin Gourmet Hamburgers. The competition is expected to draw 10-12 professional eaters who will vie for a $900 first place prize.
The first place winner will also receive a trophy, and the second and third place finishers will receive $500 and $200 respectively.
Prize money for the event will be provided through a $5,000 sponsorship from Red Robin, which also covers the event fees for All Pro Eating. Red Robin will also provide the hamburgers that the competitors will consume.
And the burgers cannot be consumed in odd ways, as is common in other eating competitions. According to Todd Greenwald, chairman of All Pro Eating, the contestants will have to adhere to the strict standards of “picnic style rules.”
“The rules are basically that the hamburgers need to be eaten as they’re presented to the competitive eaters,” said Greenwald. “You can’t dunk the hamburger. You can’t mash it. You can’t mush it. We don’t drink our food, we eat it. We want to eat it as Red Robin Gourmet Hamburgers present the hamburgers. There’s not going to be any dunking, any dipping, any tearing. We’re just going to enjoy the delicious flavor of that hamburger.”
Greenwald and other members of the All Pro Eating organization, which organized and ran 14 eating competitions across the country last year, will run the competition, emcee the event, and also provide marketing for the contest at the national level.
“They’ll hit more of the national marketing, where we’ll still do local,” said Deena Kershner, Taste of Hamburg-er Festival organizer and executive director of Hamburg’s Our Town Foundation.
Kershner said the Hamburg festival is contracted with All Pro Eating for one year as the site of the hamburger eating championship. She is expecting this year’s festival to have an additional 5,000 attendees in accordance with the rate of growth displayed by the festival over the last eight years.
The area that the festival covers will increase this year, as well, with the festival extending down to Second Street on State Street. Last year the festival ended at Third Street.
“Everybody enjoys the festival so much that we very rarely have any negative comment,” said Kershner. “With the amount of people that come to town, everything has always run smoothly and all the comments we get have been very positive.”
“There is no better spot to hold the National Hamburger Eating Championship than right there at Taste of Hamburg-er Festival,” said Greenwald. “I think we’re going to see some fantastic hamburger action and I think it’s going to be one of those events that is just fantastic to watch. I can guarantee that there’s going to be plenty of hamburgers that are eaten.”