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Chapman-Van Yperen: Grundy County chows down in annual hot dog eating contest

MORRIS – Ice cream bars, Ho Hos, chocolate chip cookies.

An eating contest with any one of these delicious snacks I would be a shoo-in for since Baby Van Yperen, aka BVY, seems to be a huge fan of sweets, according to my cravings.

Eating for two in any eating contest should give me a one-up on my competitors, but not in the case of a hot dog eating contest. BVY just isn’t digging the hot dogs.

Despite this, I will again be competing in Grundy Bank’s 8th Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest being held Friday during the Brown Bag Lunch on the Grundy County Courthouse lawn.

Ten of us will compete to eat the most hot dogs in two minutes, all in the name of charity. Sheriff Kevin Callahan is returning again this year in hopes of keeping his distinguished title of eating champion. 

I return in hopes of keeping my crown as Queen of the Fundraising and that maybe BVY will attract some “Awe, look at the chubby pregnant lady” donations to my charity – United Way of Grundy County.

A few years ago the bank added a new component to the hot dog eating contest. In addition to the winning eater getting a $250 donation to his or her charity, for an hour before the contest all contestants could raise money from the crowd for his or her charity. Whomever raised the most money also got a $250 match.

For the last two years, I have won the fundraising contest. Last year the competition as a whole raised $3,100 for local charities, almost $1,000 of which was raised for United Way.

I can’t let my unborn child down, so it is my goal to win again. I’ll leave the eating up to the other nine contestants. Unless there are Ho Hos on hand – then I’m willing to stuff my face along with them.

Grundy Bank is shaking things up again this year by changing the eating contest just a tad. After the fundraising is completed from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the contestants will join forces in two teams: City of Morris vs. Grundy County. Whichever team eats the most hot dogs will get the $250 donation to their chosen team charity.

“It was a little intimidating to do as an individual,” said Sara Grieff, chairwoman of Grundy Bank’s Caring Committee, which hosts the event. “We’re hoping the group effort will encourage participants.”

On the city team: Morris Police Chief Brent Dite, Morris Assistant Fire Chief Bob Wills, Morris Deputy Police Chiefs Harvey Van Cleave and John Severson and myself (and BVY).

On the county team: Sheriff Callahan, State’s Attorney Jason Helland, County Clerk Lana Phillips, Regional Superintendent of Schools Chris Mehochko and Grundy Bank’s Dave Brozovich.

The city is eating for Special Olympics and the county for the Grundy County Housing Authority.

With a whole team of players, this may take some pressure off reigning champion Sheriff Callahan, who annually has eaten about five hot dogs in the two minutes.

“I’ve got to see what the team is capable of before I decide to go for it or not,” he said.

Chief Dite is a returning candidate, but after many years, he only ate a couple.

“The problem we have is Kevin Callahan is undefeated in any and all eating contests – so we have to bring our A-game. And anyone who knows Dave Brozovich knows he can eat,” Dite said. “And I wouldn’t bet against Jason Helland. So I think we’re in trouble.”

The competition reminds Dite of the “Faculty vs. The Fuzz” basketball game played annually by the local police and Morris Community High School staff. During their first game, when Superintendent Pat Halloran was making shot after shot, Dite had him taken off the court in handcuffs.

“Kevin Callahan and his team better watch their backs. We could have something up our sleeve to remove them a few minutes before we start,” Dite threatened – I mean, said.

It really is all fun and games, and it’s for great local causes that include United Way, We Care of Grundy County, Special Connections of Grundy County, Operation St. Nick and others.

But to donate to any of the competitors and their charities, you have to show up in person to the event from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m per Grundy Bank’s rules.

So come out Friday and support the eaters, and by eaters I mean me. I’ll be the one rubbing her baby bump while putting Ho Hos in my hot dog bun and sneaking my actual hot dogs onto Callahan’s plate.

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