The 2019 Colorado State Fair, which ended on Labor Day, is reporting increases in both attendance and revenue over last year; a total of 466,380 visitors descended on the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo over the eleven-day event for rodeos, concerts, carnivals and fair-food fare, of course.
Adding to the draw were some new attractions, including the first World Slopper Eating Championship, which was covered by news outlets from Maryland to California. No doubt part of their coverage focused on the mysterious slopper itself: A Pueblo invention, it might look like just an open-faced cheeseburger covered with sauce, but when that sauce is green chile made with Pueblo chiles, the dish is elevated to a unique Colorado creation.
For the contest, which was sanctioned by Major League Eating, the sloppers dispensed with half the bun, which cut back some on the bulk. Even so, the dish weighed in at nine ounces, and the winning count of 28.25 sloppers in eight minutes is almost beyond belief.
The winner was world-ranked professional eater Darron Breeden, who took home $2,000 and a very expanded gut. Coming in second was Tucson’s Michelle Lescon, one of the top two female eaters in the world, who made it through 18.5. Most of the pro eaters were new to sloppers...and Colorado-style green chile, for that matter. For this contest, it came from the Pueblo Chile Growers Association; the meat was pure Colorado beef. And the sloppers themselves were put together by Giodone's, one of the fair's longest-tenured vendors.
The eating pros were joined by representatives from three local slopper havens: Teigan Torres of the Riverside Bar and Grill, Luis Martinez of the Sunset Inn, and Don Maldonado of Gray’s Coors Tavern.
Gray's lays claim to being the spot where the slopper was invented in the ’50s. For this competition, though, organizers skipped the French fries that often top a Gray's slopper. Even so, Maldonado managed to down just 8.9 of his bar's specialties before time ran out.
On this year's contest, at least. Major League Eating promises to return to Pueblo next year.
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