Field set for Canteen eating contest
Iowa’s delicacy, the loose-meat sandwich, has caught the attention of some of the world’s greatest competitive eaters. The First Annual Canteen Eating Contest will take place in Ottumwa’s Central Park on Saturday, June 2nd at 1:00 PM. The 10 minute contest is Iowa’s first and only sanctioned event by Major League Eating; the same organization known for the world famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island in New York City.
Matthew Raible, ranked #40 eater in the world, stopped by the Canteen to try the legendary sandwich. “They’re delicious” he said. After eating his 10th sandwich in under 20 minutes, he ordered 2 more to go. “I’ll eat 20 - 25 for sure...but #12 Juan Rodriguez? Oh, he’ll crush 40 of these no problem.” With a purse of $4,000, the contest has attracted 6 of the top eaters in the world, including #6 Gideon Oji, of Zaria, Nigeria. At 6’9” tall and 220 lbs, he is the tallest major league eater in history. Gideon’s recent wins include devouring 1.3125 gallons of green chili stew in 6 minutes and 25.5 16oz kale salads in 8 minutes. In total, 12 contestants will compete for an opportunity to be crowned champion and annihilate the current world record for Canteens eaten in one sitting - a respectable 15 sandwiches.
While contestants from around the world have been preparing for the event, so has the Canteen restaurant. “We’ve ordered more than 1,200 lbs of ground beef for the competition weekend. At least 100 lbs will be allocated for the 12 eaters on stage -- the rest will be for customers” said Lindsey Newland, manager of the Canteen. In addition, the restaurant has ordered 15 gallons of sliced dill pickles and 2,500 buns. If stacked on top of each other, the buns would be more than 40 stories tall, dwarfing the Iowa State Capitol by more than 200 feet.
In addition to the 10 minute eating contest, Ottumwa’s downtown will be filled with activities for families and visitors to burn off any food coma. Ottumwa’s Municipal Band, the oldest band of it’s kind west of the Mississippi River, will perform the first concert of their 154th season. Division BMX will perform along with world renowned skateboarder Adam Miller, who became famous for landing a previously impossible trick - a backflip from one skateboard to another. More than 40 vendors from around Iowa will take part in Main Street Madness, a sidewalk sale organized by Main Street Ottumwa. There will be a kids zone filled with bouncy houses and laser tag, food trucks, and the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” in the Wapello County Historical Museum. The evening will conclude with live music all over town, including performances by Sean Costanza and Steve McLain at the Market on Main, and The Dweebs, America’s Favorite Party Band, at the Bridge View Center.
OFFICIAL CONTESTANT ROSTER
NAME RANK CITY, STATE
1. Giden Oji #6 Zaria, Nigeria
2. Juan Rodriguez #12 Crestwood, Illinois
3. Juan Neave #23 Austin, Texas
4. Sarah Reinecke #36 Seattle, Washington
5. Matthew Raible #40 Peoria, Illinois
6. Andrew Kogutkiewicz #45 Racine, Wisconsin
7. Tanner Varner Urbandale, Iowa
8. Michelle Severino Springfield, Iowa
9. Mark Williams Marshalltown, Iowa
10. Michael Blue SPONSOR ENTRANT
11. Andrew Webber SPONSOR ENTRANT
12. Douglas Hunter Boyd Jr Ottumwa, Iowa (NOT CONFIRMED)
LOCAL COMPETITOR FACTS
Tanner Varner Urbandale, Iowa
Ottumwa High School Grad, NCAA D1 Runner Up in Football. 10 years playing professional football.
Michelle Severino Springfield, Iowa
Won the doughnut eating contest at the Illinois State Fair last summer.
Mark Williams Marshalltown, Iowa
MLE Veteran. Eaten hot dogs and Æbleskivers. Iowa’s top eater.
Michael Blue SPONSOR ENTRANT
Member of The Dweebs Band performing at the Bridge View Center that evening.