While many across the city were celebrating Irish pride with a green beer, seven people at Hash House A Go Go celebrated with green faces Tuesday morning.
The contestants participated in the first annual corned beef eating contest in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. The contest, in which contestants tried to be the first to finish two pounds of cooked corned beef and a wedge of cabbage, was broadcasted live on country station KWNR. The winner received 52 $15 gift certificates, the equivalent of one free breakfast a week for one year, while second place received a $100 gift certificate and $25 for third place.
Ron Koch, 62, the winner and oldest contestant predicted his victory when he walked in the door. He told the crowd that he could finish the dish in two and a half minutes – it took him more than 15 minutes.
“I came in here with winning on my mind, I did not come in here to lose. There was only one point at the beginning where I couldn’t swallow – after that I started breaking it apart and got back on pace,” Koch said.
Koch said he couldn’t wait to come back with his wife for more corned beef and said that Hash House’s was the best he’s had since he left New York.
- St. Patrick's Day 2009
- St. Patty's Party Guide
Hash House owner Jim Rees said he hopes to make the eating contest an annual event.
“We decided it was time to celebrate the green, so we have a lot of specials,” he said. “We sell a lot of corned beef, our corned beef hash is our most popular breakfast item, so it was a natural for us to use corned beef (for the contest).”
The only one side-step in the contest came early on when one contestant lost his battle with the beef, but it did not deter the other contestants. Most of them actually took home their leftovers for later.
Down at the Rio, the St. Patrick’s Day festivities got started early with their $10 unlimited green beer from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
“The first beer bong happened around 7:30 a.m.,” McFadden’s event coordinator Mandy Bell said.
Bell said there were already 20 people in the bar at 7 a.m., many of them repeat St. Patrick’s Day offenders, like Jeanne Slingluff who took the day off for the festivities.
“We tried really hard to get here at 7 a.m., but didn’t make it in here until about 7:15 a.m.,” Slingluff said. “But we do this every year and did the halfway to St. Patty’s Day too.”
Slingluff and friends were toasting green beers and completely covered from head to toe in Irish-inspired accessories, like shamrock stickers on their cheeks and green metallic Mardi Gras-style beads. She said they took the theme seriously this year and even decorated their apartment with shamrocks hanging from the ceiling.
Dan Mathes, a bartender and host of security at McFadden’s, said that the party often gets just as colorful as the décor.
“We had a line that was 300 people long last year, people are willing to wait in line up to an hour just to come through,” he said. “We’ve got leprechauns running around, we’ve got Irish bagpipers, Celtic dancers, the list goes on and on.”
McFadden’s will be hosting specials and contests throughout the day and Mathes said guests arriving early will reap the most benefits. At noon, the bar will host a “Last man standing competition,” in which contestants must take a shot of whiskey chased with a full beer until there is only one person left. The winner gets a $500 bar tab and a raging hangover. Then there is a $5 Killians special from noon to 4 p.m., with the night ending on a sweet note with the “Build Your Own Bikini Contest” for $1000.
“As far as the actual bar set-up, we’ve extended the bar, we put the patio chairs outside because by about 9 a.m. we were full last year,” Mathes said, adding that he expected customers to descend on the bar in waves.
“The thing is when people come in this early, they’ll come by later,” he said. “A lot of people start at noon, so that by 11 o’clock they’re done, blitzed. We’ll have another swing when people get out of work at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., so that around 9 o’clock people will just be tearing it up.”