Jordan native Chuck Skluzacek knows how to throw down.
Skluzacek had just run in the annual 10K Run of the Mill in 2016 and thought, why not give the Heimatfest Brat Eating Contest a go?
“I had it in the back of my mind that I might try to do it just because it’s a fun thing to do,” he said.
Skluzacek, who now lives in Rochester, has family in Jordan and wanted to try out the contest in 2015, but skipped out.
Before facing Pekarna’s brats and about six to eight competitors, Skluzacek wasn’t nervous.
“It’s a brat-eating contest, so it’s something that if I do well or I don’t do well it’s not that big of a deal,” he said. “The whole point of it is just to go out and have fun and put on a show.”
And that he did.
“(I) was able to eat four or five of Pekarna’s delicious brats in less than two minutes and the rest of the time I pretty much coasted,” he said in a Facebook message. The contest was over in about 10 minutes.
His mindset throughout the contest was simple — eat as fast as humanely possible before realizing he was full.
And he gained a big lead, so decided to take it easy for the last few minutes of the contest.
He won by eating nearly 10 brats.
“Afterwards, I definitely didn’t want to eat anything for quite some time,” he said. “I needed a nap.”
Skluzacek won a $25 gift certificate to Pekarna’s Meat Market, which he used to buy ring sausage.
He compared the contest to Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contests in Coney Island, where contestants can shovel down 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
“Those people, they train for in the long term,” he said. “I was just going out there on a whim and having fun so. My major thought is just to see how many I could get done as quickly as possible and then deal with the consequences later.”
Behind the scenes
Pekarna Meat Market, a historic family business in downtown Jordan, donates about 100 brats for the festival — and they don’t skimp out on the size. The brats are about four in a pound.
“The normal brats are usually about two-and a-half to three to a pound, so they’re not that much smaller,” owner Gregg Pekarna said of the competition brats.
It usually takes a few hours to prepare the brats the day before the contest. Pekarna then grills them and makes them “look nice.” The first year of the festival, they boiled the brats, giving them a white color that Pekarna said didn’t look appetizing.
“I’m standing there watching and see the first guy ready to go grab a brat and goes like this... ,” Pekarna said, making a scrunched face. “The casing slid off the brat instead of it being crispy when grilled. It was pretty funny.”
Now the brats are always grilled.
Heimatfest kicks off Sept. 7 with a Classic Car and Cycle Cruise through downtown Jordan. Registration is on Water Street and is $10. The cruise then begins at 6:45 p.m. followed by live music and food booths, including a beer garden until 11:30 p.m.
On Sept. 8, runners gear up in the morning for a few options from the Run of the Mill 5K/10K or half-mile family fun run.
The Heimatfest Parade starts at 11 a.m. downtown, followed by food booths and a beer garden. Miss Jordan will be coronated at 3 p.m. at the Gazebo.
Throughout the afternoon, there will be face painting, spin art, pottery, bingo and of course the infamous brat eating contest.