CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two popular Sternwheel Regatta traditions, the hot dog eating contest and the Weiner dog races are preparing to make their return again this year.

Some representatives for both events came on 580 Live with Dave Allen Wednesday before the Regatta was to officially kick off at noon.

The Tudor’s Biscuit World Hot Dog Eating Contest will take place on the Fourth of July Thursday at Haddad Riverfront Park starting at 5 p.m.

Kaci Foster is the only woman participating in the hot dog contest this year for the second time it’s to be held during Regatta. She said there was also one woman to enter it last year during it’s Regatta debut.

Nicknamed “The Hotdog Queen,” Foster said she did advertising for the Charleston Gazette Mail for over a decade and one of her jobs was traveling around the state looking for great food to try.

She said one of her main indulgences during the job was hot dogs, even setting a high record of consuming them.

“Every July I would go to all of these restaurants around West Virginia, pick the best hot dogs, and my record is 64 hot dogs in a month,” Foster said on 580 Live.

Foster said the lack of women participation in the contest came as motivation for her to enter and represent the indulgence of hot dogs on behalf of all women.

“I love hot dogs, and I was looking on social media, I was looking at the contestants and I realized hey, there’s ten men there’s no women we got to be represented and so I thought, this is my calling, I got to do it,” she said.

However, Foster said there is also a more personal reason she has for entering the contest.

She said her mother was diagnosed with skin cancer in February, causing her to break her back in three places. Foster said her mother passed away three months after her diagnosis on May 17.

She said she is doing this to honor her mom and the love she had for food.

“My mom was a huge foodie, she was my biggest fan,” Foster said. “My mom was the greatest, and I kinda put my life on hold while she was sick and I’m just now coming out of that haze, and my mom would have loved this.”

Foster said she’s been training and learning different techniques to do the eating contest right. She said she will be going into the competition on an empty stomach to be able to eat as many hot dogs as she can.

On the busiest day of the Regatta, Saturday July 6, the annual Weiner Dog Races will get underway at Magic Island. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. with races starting at 11 a.m.

Owner of Tony the Tailor, a premier men’s clothing store in Charleston is Anthony Parazino. A lead sponsor of the event, he encourages everyone to come out and see the dogs compete.

“It should be fun, kid-friendly, there’s a dress up contest for the dogs, it’s fantastic,” Parazino said.

He was joined by Amber Costello with the Fix Em’ Clinic on 580 Live Wednesday. The Fix Em’ Clinic is an organization that spays and neuters cats and dogs, as well as provides other health services for them such as shots and deworming.

Tony the Tailor prints up t-shirts for the event and sells them the day of. All of the proceeds from the t-shirts goes to the clinic.

Costello said the clinic has so far reached thousands of animals since opening.

“Since opening in February of 2018, we have successfully spayed or neutered over 27,000 animals from all over the county, surrounding counties as far as Wyoming County,” she said.

She said last year, they were very close to reaching 6,000 spay and neuter operations alone for owned pets, shelter pets, community cats and feral cats.

Costello said the need for these operations have been overwhelming and they are now in the process of finding a full-time veterinarian.

She said the Fix Em’ Clinic really serves as a major player in alleviating the overpopulation of cats and dogs throughout the region.

“It seems like at every shelter, in every nook and cranny shelters are overflowing with cats and dogs, and the answer is just spay and neuter,” she said.

Weiner dogs of all ages are allowed to participate in the variety of competitions for Saturday’s event, not only the race itself.

Costello gives a rundown on what the registration process for the competitions entail.

“There are some entry-fees and of course all of those fees go toward low-cost, high volume spay and neuter,” Costello said. “So, just show up between 8:30 and 10:30 for registration on Magic Island this Saturday, register, there’s some different categories to register, there’s costume contests, actual races.”

The Weiner Dog Race has been a longstanding tradition during Regatta, going on for around 20 years.

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