Clark County Fair: Taking chewing to a whole new level

Eating contests are no longer just for kids at this year's Clark County Fair

By Stefanie Donahue, Columbian staff writer



Clark County Fair

• When: Aug. 2-11.

• Hours: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 2; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 3, 9-10; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 4-8 and 11.

• Admission: Advance discount tickets and packages available online. $10; $8 for ages 62 and older; $7 for ages 7 to 12; free for younger than 7.

• Parking: $6.

• Free pancake breakfast: 8 to 11 a.m. Aug. 2, courtesy of Fred Meyer. Free admission is only allowed until noon with a valid coupon from participating Fred Meyer locations.

• Information:

Piled across a line of tables are mountains of hot dogs, pies and, well, you name it. And in a matter of seconds, the mounds of food will be reduced to scraps.

A variety of eating contests at the Clark County Fair, which runs Aug. 2-11, will bring together the spirit of rivalry and classic summer food.

“It is a real crowd pleaser,” said Alexa Morris, marketing coordinator for the Clark County Fair and Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds.

Watermelons, chips and salsa, hot dogs and pies are set to be devoured by contestants in this year’s contests.

“I definitely think I could be a top contender in the watermelon competition,” Morris said with a laugh, although she will not be a participant.

Last year, the fair had just one eating competition, and it was offered only to kids, Morris said. That event was a huge hit and is returning, she said.

This year, adults get to join in on the competition.

“It gets people in the moment,” Morris said. “It screams summer.”

The eating contests, which are free for participants and those watching, will feature two heats of 10 to 20 people per food category. Winners will be awarded prizes valued at $100 to $300, and runners-up will receive smaller prizes, she said.

Participants can sign up online up to 30 minutes prior to the event at

One participant, already registered for the eating extravaganza, is simply looking forward to some fair fun.

First-time competitive eater

Theresa Huggett will take part in this year’s pie-eating competition. The pie, provided by Shari’s Cafe and Pies, enticed her to participate, she said.

Huggett said she has been researching competitive eating online in preparation for the big day. Perhaps after her first eating competition, she will be able to establish a technique, but for now, she said, Huggett will just have to see what happens.

“I am just going to go and do what I can,” she said.

Huggett said she isn’t anticipating breaking any records and is simply looking to have some fun.

Preston Nolan, who has registered for the watermelon-eating contest this year, is taking a different approach.

Looking up to the competitive-eating greats such as Guinness Record-holder Takeru Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut, seven-time winner of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, N.Y., Nolan said he plans on starting his training early.

“I am excited for some spirited competition,” he said.

Coming in with one successful slider eating competition under his belt, Nolan said endurance, control and the proper chewing technique will be important on the big day.

For now, “I am still trying to decide my point of attack,” he said with a laugh.

In preparation, Nolan plans to head to the farmers market, pick up a few watermelons and train, he said. With his headband on and “Eye of the Tiger” playing, Nolan plans to train through the weekend, he said.

“I didn’t do it to come in second,” he said.

Fair features

This year, organizers at the Clark County Fair are aiming to bring elements of popular culture to the masses with two large attractions: Fair Con and Rock U: The Institute of Rock ’n’ Roll.

Fair Con will feature gaming contests, free-play video games, magic cards, a costume competition known as CosPlay, a film festival and more.

Rock U will take visitors through the history of rock music. It also features a variety of interactive activities and music memorabilia.