Hot Springs International Corned Beef Eating Championship

Eating professionals and talented Arkansas amateurs will chow down January 14 at the first-ever Hot Springs International Corned Beef Eating Championship.

Top competitive eaters will gather at the Hot Springs Convention Center’s Horner Hall at 3:30 p.m. to eat Oaklawn Park’s world-famous corned beef in competition for a total of $5,000 in prize money.

The winner will receive $3,000 for first place. Second place will win $1,500 and third place will win $500.

The 10-minute contest will feature competitors wolfing down platters of Oaklawn’s famous corned beef, a Hot Springs culinary staple.

“Hot Springs is already famous as Arkansas’s dining capital, with 226 local restaurants,” said Steve Arrison, executive director of the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Oaklawn’s corned beef is a huge hit and has been called among the best in the world. Oaklawn’s live racing season begins January 20, and is expected to bring in huge crowds for the Thoroughbred competition and, incidentally, for those great Oaklawn corned beef sandwiches.”

Arrison continued, “Hot Springs also is home to restaurants such as McClard’s Bar-B-Q, which has a world-wide following, including President Bill Clinton, and to dining spots that run the gamut from top-rated Continental cuisine, Italian food, German and Jewish food, and everything in between.

“Although we are showcasing Oaklawn’s corned beef, we spent a lot of time considering all the other Hot Springs dining delicacies we could have highlighted in our city’s first-ever international competitive eating championship.

“It finally came down to corned beef because of the way it also fits in with our upcoming First Ever Third Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17. What a match – a corned beef champ and another world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade all in a three-month period.”

Arrison said a celebrity contest would precede the main event.

“I expect nothing short of an epic battle for this coveted title,” said George Shea, chairman of the IFOCE, which is sanctioning the Hot Springs championship. “The victor of the much-anticipated Hot Springs International Corned Beef Eating Championship will have to combine hand speed, jaw strength, stomach capacity and athleticism.”

This is an IFOCE event and the IFOCE will handle registration. There are still open spots available, and interested participants over the age of 18 should register online. Registration via the website does not guarantee a seat in the competition.