America’s Strangest Food Competitions

facebook/floridaicecreamfestivalfacebook/floridaicecreamfestivalWatching competitive eating is a bizarrely popular pastime enjoyed by many Americans, and for the brave few who actually participate in the sport, it can be a career. Around the country, people gather to watch others consume absurd amounts of food in record times, sometimes for a cash prize, and sometimes just because. Competitors' seemingly super-human abilities can cause often us to stare, if not feel a little queasy - and even, in some extreme cases, potentially convince us to join in the action.

Also see: Chef David Burke's Take on Asparagus - 5 Different Ways

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati World Bratwurst-Eating Championship: Ohio

Taking place at America's largest Oktoberfest, this competition has a cash prize of around $2,000. The festival occurs in September and contestants try to eat as many bratwursts as they can in 10 minutes. The winner in 2012 (and the seven-time winner of the Nathan's Hot-Dog-Eating Contest) was Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, with 37 bratwursts (short of his world record of 42).

Related: 5 Weird Hangover Cures From Around the World

Acme Oyster Eating World Championship: Louisiana

The New Orleans Oyster Festival celebrates the delicious oysters served throughout the city at various restaurants. A highlight of the festival is the Oyster-Eating Contest, sponsored by Acme Oyster House. Contenders are required to use forks (they are not allowed to lift the oyster and slurp it down) and all oysters must be cleared from their tray before starting another one. In 2010, Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas won the competition with a record 47 dozen oysters in just eight minutes. This year, Thomas took the top prize again, albeit with only 24 dozen oysters.

Related: Top 5 Weird Food Combos in New York City

The Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship: California

When dumplings taste this good, why stop after just 200? This competition takes place at the Nisei Week Foundation Festival in Los Angeles, and the cash prizes add up to $6,000. Last years winner was Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, who ate a record 266 dumplings in 10 minutes.

Related: 13 Strange Squeeze Bottle Foods

World's Grits Festival: South Carolina

In the small town of St. George, S.C., participants gather to celebrate a Southern favorite at the World Grits Festival. The festival has two grits competitions: rolling in the grits (participants roll in a pool of grits and attempt to cover themselves completely in the food) and a grits-eating competition, in which competitors race to finish their bowl the fastest.

Related: 21 Strange Food Deaths Through History

-Meredith Whitman, The Daily Meal

Click Here to see more of America's Strangest Food Competitions