Sloppy Joe Eating Contest Returns to Celebrate South Orange
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 • 10:54am
How Joe can YOU go? That’s the question that six hungry contestants will attempt to answer at Celebrate South Orange on Saturday, June 16, as they face off head-to-head—or in this case, belly-to-belly—during the Sloppy Joe Eating Contest. In what has become the signature event of South Orange’s annual downtown festival, contestants will have three minutes to gobble down as many world-famous Town Hall Deli Sloppy Joe sandwiches as they can. Celebrate South Orange organizers have announced that the search for contestants for this year’s Joe-off is now underway.
2012 marks the fourth year for the popular contest, which began as the brainchild of CSO organizer John Shabe. In describing the origins of the contest, Shabe noted the popularity of the Nathan’s hot dog eating extravaganza held each July 4 on Coney Island. “Besides the fact that the Nathan’s contest is incredibly entertaining to watch, it fosters a huge feeling of community in that its connection to Coney Island is so strong,” Shabe explained. “We wanted to create the same sort of connection to a Village culinary tradition.” Enter the Town Hall Deli and its legendary Sloppy Joe sandwich, a South Orange staple. Shabe approached deli owner Tony Wonski, who was only too happy to participate.
What makes a great Sloppy Joe Eating Contest contestant? It’s not only the ability to down Joe after Joe, said Shabe. “We look for contestants who are outgoing and able to entertain a crowd,” he noted. “At the end of the day, they’re putting on a show as well as participating in a contest.”
Past winners have included a recent Seton Hall University graduate, a professional competitive eater, and a lifelong South Orange resident. Winners receive a $100 gift certificate to Town Hall Deli and a commemorative T-shirt—as well as a year’s worth of bragging rights.
The Town Hall Deli Sloppy Joe Eating Contest will be held on the mainstage at Celebrate South Orange. Start time is 6:00 p.m. There is no charge to enter or participate in the contest. Entry forms are available at Town Hall Deli, 60 Valley Street in South Orange, as well as on the Celebrate South Orange website at www.celebratesouthorange.org.