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Hot-dog gobblers to compete in W. Chester, Camden

Two chow-down showdowns later this month will feature world-class hot-dog eaters.

Two chow-down showdowns later this month will feature world-class hot-dog eaters.

Assuming the word class applies to hot-dog eating.

On June 26 in West Chester, and on June 28 in Camden, competitions will be held to determine qualifiers for that legendary annual event at Coney Island, the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Spectators are welcome to come see grown people groan as they gobble lubed crude tube food.

Last year at Coney Island, Joey Chestnut, two-time winner of Philadelphia's Wing Bowl, inhaled 66 franks - and buns - in 12 minutes, setting a new world record while taking the crown from six-time champ Takeru Kobayashi.

That's more than what cliques of college kids gulp down during an entire Dollar Dog Night at Citizens Bank Park.

The West Chester qualifier will be held at 1 p.m. at the QVC Studio Park, 1200 Wilson Dr.

The Camden contest, billed as the championship for New Jersey, will be at 1 p.m. at the Nathan's Famous restaurant at North Third and Market Streets.

A third local qualifying event, held May 24 in Philadelphia, crowned Royersford's "Humble" Bob Shoudt as city champion. Shoudt, who's a "vegetarian" outside of competitive-eating events, also reportedly set the world's cheesesteak-eating record of 13 in January 2007 at Jim's Steaks on South Street.

Expect other big-name, gut-throat gorgers to be in West Chester and Camden. Eric "Badlands" Booker, who has recorded hip-hop albums about his eating exploits, will exit retirement to take on the likes of Eric "Steakbellie" Livingston and Micah "Wing Kong" Collins, both of Drexel Hill, as well as Pat "from Moonachie" Philbin, who has qualified for three straight July Fourth finals.

Most of the field is set for the two local events, and there's even a waiting list of eager competitors, according to Ryan Nerz, a spokesman for Major League Eating, which is promoting the events.

But if someone's truly qualified, there may still be a chance to earn a spot.

The best idea is to e-mail Kate Westfall of the International Federation of Competitive Eating, at, he said.

Also, on occasion, people who just showed up at an event wound up invited to eat, when other competitors failed to show, he added.