Hot Dog Festival new highlight of annual Tampa Riverfest

Be there if you want a shot at competing in the iconic Nathan's frank-eating contest.

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click to enlarge Nathan's hot dog-eating battle draws a large crowd to its Coney Island frank stand annually. - LongLiveRock via Wikimedia Commons
LongLiveRock via Wikimedia Commons
Nathan's hot dog-eating battle draws a large crowd to its Coney Island frank stand annually.

Back for a third year, Tampa Riverfest is introducing a new event for fans of frankfurters.

The inaugural Hot Dog Festival — scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. May 6 (the first day of Riverfest) — has a hot dog tasting with area restaurants and caterers, wiener dog derby benefiting the Florida Dachshund Rescue, live concert, and hot dog-eating competition in store for downtown Tampa's Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

Meant to showcase the partnership between Nathan's Famous and Riverfest, the 7 p.m. eating competition also functions as a qualifying event for the iconic Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest. The top female and male finishers (excuse the gender binary) move on to the ESPN-televised finals in Coney Island, Brooklyn, and those looking to enter can register online in advance.

San Jose, California's Joey Chestnut, who completed a 70-frank performance in 10 minutes last year, and Miki Sudo of Las Vegas, who downed 38 and a half in 10 minutes, currently hold the hot dog-eating world champ titles.

Riverfest runs through May 7 with free family-friendly activities and events featured along the Tampa Riverwalk. But to snag samples during the local hot dog tasting, a Hot Dog Sampler wristband must be purchased.

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