MORRIS – Low-fat yogurt and lots of water.
That’s the breakfast of champions, according to Grundy County Sheriff Kevin Callahan, who set a new record Friday at this year’s hot dog eating contest.
Callahan scarfed seven hot dogs in just two minutes, making it the most anyone has eaten in the Grundy Bank Hot Dog Contest’s eight-year history. The contest kicks off the summer’s Brown Bag Friday lunches, which are held on the Grundy County Courthouse lawn and sponsored by the bank.
“I never thought I’d eat that many,” Callahan said.
Aside from eating his way to personal glory, Callahan was helping the remaining four members of his Grundy County team who faced off against a team representing the city of Morris.
This was the first year that the individual contestants joined forces and competed in teams. The team that ate the most hot dogs received $250 from Grundy Bank to give to the team’s chosen charity. The county competed for the Grundy County Housing Authority and the city for Special Olympics.
Each participant also competed to raise money for his or her selected individual charities. For the hour before the contest, contestants could raise money for their individual charity and Grundy Bank also donated $250 to the individual fundraising winner.
“People get a little intimidated doing it on their own,” said Sara Grieff, chairwoman of Grundy Bank’s Caring Committee, which hosts the event. “By making it a team effort, it was a little easier to convince people to participate.”
With Grundy Bank’s Dave Brozovich – who ate four and a half dogs – and reigning champion Callahan carrying the group, Grundy County’s team won this year’s competition, beating the city, 13-9.
“We are thrilled they won,” Jennifer Olson of the Grundy County Housing Authority said. “We will use the money to put toward a new water heater at Saratoga Towers.”
Grundy County Clerk Lana Phillips and State’s Attorney Jason Helland, who participated for the county, relied on Callahan’s talent, opting to eat cheese pizza instead of the water-soaked hot dogs.
Regional Superintendent of Schools Chris Mehochko, who competed for the first time this year, also depended on Callahan.
“My strategy is to hope the sheriff eats a lot of hot dogs,” Mehochko said.
Together the 10 contestants raised close to $5,000 for local charities. Last year, $3,100 was raised.
Morris Daily Herald News Editor Christina Chapman-Van Yperen was once again the top fundraiser, collecting $1,705 for United Way of Grundy County.
“I totally used my baby bump to my advantage,” said Chapman, who is six-months pregnant. Despite eating for two this year, she was only able to finish about three-quarters of a hot dog.
“This is the first year I really tried to eat a whole hot dog. I wanted to be a team player, but the baby just is not a fan of hot dogs,” she said.
Morris Police Chief Brent Dite, Morris Assistant Fire Chief Bob Wills, Morris Deputy Police Chiefs Harvey Van Cleave and John Severson sat alongside Chapman on the city’s team.
Morale was low for some city team members before the event even started.
“I’d say the city’s chances are slim and none,” Wills said before the event. “The rest of us are old and tired.”
Dite said the city needs to regroup after this year’s loss and find a way to take down the sheriff.
“We’ve got some work to do.”
Visit morrisdailyherald.com to see more photos of Grundy Bank’s Hot Dog Contest