CLINTON — Fireworks, flags and franks — the three main staples of the Fourth of July. Holly Rowden takes special pride promoting the dogs.
The owner of the Holly’s Dogs stand has entrenched herself in Clinton’s hot dog eating scene, nabbing passersby for a bite on Riverview Drive every summer afternoon. Rowden is again sponsoring the Fourth of July Festival’s hot dog eating contest, taking place at 3:45 p.m. Friday in Riverfront Park.
The contest has grown in popularity, Rowden said, in the three years since the fest’s founding. It’s a chance to “properly” celebrate National Hot Dog Month, and Rowden has all the gear ready to cook up more than 100 dogs specifically for the contest. She said more hot dogs are consumed on the Fourth than any day otherwise.
But something has bugged her for the last 12 months: At last year’s fest, she saw the champion in line for more food moments after he’d engulfed 10 hot dogs faster than anyone.
“You can’t be the winner of the hot dog eating contest and then be in line getting more food,” Rowden said. “I’ll need more hot dogs (this year) obviously.”
That’s this year’s challenge: fill every bottomless belly. So, Rowden is changing the rules.
Rather than put a cap on the number of dogs, this year’s contest encourages eaters to wolf down as many franks as they can in eight minutes. This will be similar to the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, which holds its competition in 10 minutes’ time.
Rowden’s not expecting people to pull a “Joey Chestnut” and stomach more than 60 franks. But this way, the winner will walk away full of both food and American pride.
“Whoever wins this year won’t be in the Hy-Vee line five minutes later,” Rowden said. “At least that’s the hope.”