Big Weekend On Tap

In NYC, and the fashion-minded world in general, itís not cool to wear flip-flops unless itís summer or youíre some poser named Kris fumbling with an acoustic guitar on the Santa Monica pier. Thatís why it feels so good when Memorial Day weekend arrives and itís suddenly okay to pop on the Havianas, pack a cooler and head to the shore. With the three day weekend nearly here, eating fans in the NY Metro area are gearing up for two great oceanside events that are just a quick train ride away.

Fist off, it's the Nathanís Famous qualifier on Saturday in Atlantic City, an event that will take place at the Trump Plazaís popular Beach Bar at 2pm. U.S. Male, Wing Kong and Steakbellie will try to fend off three eaters -- Juliet Lee, Pat Philbin and the Shredder -- who have proven, unlike the Wing Bowl trio, that they can eat north of 20 Nathanís Famous Hot Dogs and Buns in competition.

On Monday, the venerable Peterís Clam Bar in Island Park, NY will play host to the first-ever officially sanctioned cherrystone clam eating contest. This event kicks off at 1pm on the seaside deck of Peterís, which has operated for 70 straight summers, and a slate of top MLE talent is registered to compete. Sonya Thomas, fresh off her Acme Oyster win, will face Eater X, the man who just downed an incredible 50 hot dogs and buns on the East Hartford / Glastonbury Line. Crazy Legs, never one to overlook a free mollusk, will compete as will Beautiful Brian Seiken, the disputed pickle champ.

But wait, what about other areas? Oh, for that we have a funnel cake eating contest on Saturday that may just be the most exciting showdown of our still-young eating season. Kingís Dominion, the popular theme park in Doswell, VA, will welcome Joey Chestnut, the number one ranked eater in the world, and Patrick Bertoletti, the number two ranked eater in the world. These men will go head to head in fierce battle and, with Bertoletti on a roll, the funnel cake title is truly up for grabs. Others who will be reaching for it include Badlandís Booker, Nasty Nate, Sonya Thomas, Hall Hunt, Russ Keeler and Mr. Humble.

In just one weekend, MLE will present three top-end events. For fans it means summer is finally here. For eaters it means thereís $7,500 in cash on the line along with a chance to compete at Nathan's on July 4 in the ESPN televised Coney Island Classicô.

Results and other insight at this site and on twitter (@rpshea, @gschea).