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Free food, prize money motivates entrance in hot dog eating contest

Posted July 4

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— Hundreds were celebrating America's 240th birthday in downtown Raleigh all day Monday with live entertainment, eating contests, kid’s rides, games and fireworks.

"The 'Works!" is a tradition in City Plaza each July, with events for all ages that began at noon and continued hours after the fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.

The crowd was pumped during the Tasty 8’s hot dog eating contest, which is arguably a Fourth of July tradition across the country. The women were up first and then the men took the stage Monday evening.

Competitors said they entered the contest for a variety of reasons. John Kokkelenberg said he entered for the free food and the chance to win some money, but all were serious about winning the event.

“I watched the contestants from Coney Island this morning, and they were all jumping up. I didn’t have energy for that, but they said about standing up and opening up some room in your stomach, so that’s what I did,” sad winner of the women’s contest, Allison Snead.

Snead at 10 hot dogs to take home the top prize in her competition.

Sometimes, in a food eating contest, the best laid plans can go awry and one of the competitors had the crowd running for cover.

“The nerves. I’m not going to make excuses. I tried and I threw up,” said competitor Candace Knotts.

Kokkelenberg did not win the $250 top prize in the men’s competition, but tied for second place, downing seven hot dogs in eight minutes.

“The crowd made it interesting, made it fun, but when you’re up there eating hotdogs, its forever. It’s a long eight minutes,” he said.

The winner of the men’s competition ate nine hot dogs.

Other activities at The 'Works! included18 bands, 75 food and arts vendors, street performers, a stunt show, a watermelon seed spitting contest, a kids' zone, street and aerialist performers, beer and wine tents, and magic shows.

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