Thursday, August 22, 2019

Grandma’s Heavenly Meatball Eating Contest and More

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2019 at 4:41 PM

click to enlarge This probably is what THE LAST MEATBALL on the plate looks like when you're close to winning Bardog Tavern's annual meatball eating contest. (And thanks to Leon and Manny at Bardog for making this monster meatball.) - JON W. SPARKS
  • Jon W. Sparks
  • This probably is what THE LAST MEATBALL on the plate looks like when you're close to winning Bardog Tavern's annual meatball eating contest. (And thanks to Leon and Manny at Bardog for making this monster meatball.)
click to enlarge A plate of meatballs before the contest began at Breakaway Bardog 5K & Monroe Avenue Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • A plate of meatballs before the contest began at Breakaway Bardog 5K & Monroe Avenue Festival

Alex “Mac” Fairly was top banana when it came to meatballs at Grandma’s Heavenly Meatball Eating Contest at the Breakaway Bardog 5K and Monroe Avenue Festival.

He was declared the winner after eating 31 two-ounce meatballs in 40 minutes and seven seconds at the festival, which was held August 18th in front of Bardog Tavern.

I asked Fairly what his trick was to winning the contest.

“It’s no trick,” he says. “I could just eat a lot. It hurts right now. It’s hard to think.”

Fairly is a veteran at the annual contest. “This is my third time. I finished third my first time in 2016 and second in 2017. And then here I am in Victory Lane.”

Former contest champion Brett Healey was on stage lending a hand, but not participating. Healey, who moved to Memphis in June 2017, won the meatball contest in 2017 and 2018. “Breaking the record for 40 meatballs each time,” he says. “In 2017 my time was 13:14. In 2018 it was 9:38."

Healey didn’t participate this year for two reasons. “August has been a busy month for me with eating contests and food challenges, so I need to give my body a break to maintain my health. Also, since I signed with Major League Eating in May, I am not supposed to participate in any contests that are not sanctioned by the league. Since going semi-pro in May, League Eating has ranked me No. 215 in the world.”

Just so you’ll know what type contests Healey has been participating in, he says he competed in a Nathan’s hot dog eating contest regional qualifier for the Nathan’s Finals in Coney Island. “I set a new personal record with 32 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to win the regional qualifier and secure a spot at Coney Island next July 4th, 2020. That contest will be televised on ESPN and will take place seven days after my wedding.”

Healey is engaged to Gina Picerno. If they do a conventional wedding reception, Healey won’t have to use his hands when it comes to eating wedding cake; the bride usually feeds a piece of cake to the groom.


click to enlarge Mac Fairly and Brett Healey at Breakaway Bardog 5K & Monroe Avenue Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Mac Fairly and Brett Healey at Breakaway Bardog 5K & Monroe Avenue Festival
click to enlarge Emcee Sam Prager, Yours Truly, and Bardog owner Aldo Dean at Breakaway Bardog 5K & Monroe Avenue Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Emcee Sam Prager, Yours Truly, and Bardog owner Aldo Dean at Breakaway Bardog 5K & Monroe Avenue Festival
click to enlarge Breakaway Bardog 5K & Monroe Avenue Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Breakaway Bardog 5K & Monroe Avenue Festival
click to enlarge Breakaway Bardog 5K & Monroe Avenue Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Breakaway Bardog 5K & Monroe Avenue Festival
click to enlarge Breakaway Bardog 5K & Monroe Avenue Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Breakaway Bardog 5K & Monroe Avenue Festival
click to enlarge Matt Strong, Taylor LaPorte, Daniel "Big Red" Quinlan, Lee Blankenship, and - Cassie Wiegmann were at Science of Wine. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Matt Strong, Taylor LaPorte, Daniel "Big Red" Quinlan, Lee Blankenship, and Cassie Wiegmann were at Science of Wine.

Any homework involved with Science of Wine has to be fun. But this Science of Wine was a fundraiser, which was held August 16th at the Pink Palace Museum.

Including staff and volunteers, 750 people attended the event, says Luke Ramsey, who put on the event with John Mullikin and Alex Eilers. They raised more than $30,000.

More than 120 varieties of wine were featured at the event, which is “first and foremost a fundraiser” for the museum’s education department, Ramsey says. All the wine was brought by West Tennessee Crown. “All under one distribution umbrella. It’s their fifth year in a row with us.”

What’s the purpose of Science of Wine? “We’re hoping to connect people directly with the creators of wines and foods, so they can learn a little more about the science behind that. We don’t want to just have wines that they can sample and see what they like and don’t like.”

They also want actual vintners who can answer questions such as why a wine is packaged a certain way, Ramsey says. “There are just so many facets that go into wine from ingredients to packaging. And that does affect the taste.”

And a shout out goes to sponsor Bluff City Land Rover. They provided all the glasses.


click to enlarge Luke Ramsey at Science of Wine - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Luke Ramsey at Science of Wine

click to enlarge Bobby Rush and Barbara Newman at Rush's CD release party - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Bobby Rush and Barbara Newman at Rush's CD release party

The Blues Foundation hosted a special 75th CD party for Bobby Rush August 16th at the foundation on South Main.

Rush chatted with the crowd and then he played selections from his album, Sitting on Top of the Blues.

“Bobby Rush is a blues treasure,” says Blues Foundation president/CEO Barbara Newman. “Because of his position as a Blues Hall of Famer, we at the Blues Foundation wanted to celebrate his newest release with him and with Memphis.

“It was a wonderful evening for blues lovers and those who want to learn more about the blues to hear some great music and meet Bobby in person. Ultimately, we created the opportunity for the community to come together to celebrate this important musical art form, the blues.”


click to enlarge Peabody Rooftop Party - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Peabody Rooftop Party

Up on the Roof by the Drifters is a good song to remember when you attend Peabody Rooftop Parties:

“Right smack dab in the middle of town

I found a paradise that’s trouble proof.

And if this world starts getting you down

There’s room enough for two up on the roof.”

The Peabody is sort of right smack dab in the middle of Downtown. And there certainly is room enough for two.

The roof was packed during the recent Rooftop Party, which was held August 15th. “About 1,000 is average, but we did 1,235 last week,” says Peabody marketing director Kelly Brock. “The band was Burning Las Vegas and the DJ was DJ Epic.”

The parties will return in mid April, Kelly says.


click to enlarge Silas Gaither, Chris Bramlett, Kevin Fair, and Shannon Dyson were at Peabody Rooftop Party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Silas Gaither, Chris Bramlett, Kevin Fair, and Shannon Dyson were at Peabody Rooftop Party.
click to enlarge Burning Las Vegas performed at the Peabody Rooftop Party season finale. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Burning Las Vegas performed at the Peabody Rooftop Party season finale.
click to enlarge Stepping Out at Napa Cafe - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Stepping Out at Napa Cafe

Darlene Winters is excited about “Stepping Out at Napa Cafe,” her first dinner/fundraiser for Company d. The event, which was held August 12th, also included a performance by the dance company.

The purpose of the event was “to build support for and increase awareness of a pre-professional dance company of adult dancers with Down Syndrome,” says Winters, who is the company's artistic director.


She described the event as “a total success.”

“So many of those who attended did not know about Company d — or very little,” she says. “Having the event at Napa Cafe was a perfect setting to talk one on one with new people or stop by a table.”

The event also was “a wonderful way to share and increase awareness of the dancers’ abilities. The short program was perfect to highlight the dancers.”

click to enlarge Stepping Out at Napa Cafe - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Stepping Out at Napa Cafe
click to enlarge Darlene Winters, Sancy Schaeffer, and Napa Cafe owner Glenda Hastings at Stepping Out at Napa Cafe - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Darlene Winters, Sancy Schaeffer, and Napa Cafe owner Glenda Hastings at Stepping Out at Napa Cafe

                                       WE SAW YOU AROUND TOWN


click to enlarge Jay Knight and Orlandria Harper at Gibson's Donuts - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jay Knight and Orlandria Harper at Gibson's Donuts
click to enlarge Edgar Bounds and Desiree Ramacus-Bushnell at Kroger on Mendenhall - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Edgar Bounds and Desiree Ramacus-Bushnell at Kroger on Mendenhall
click to enlarge Jeremy Leake, Savannah Jordan, and Landon Hammonds at Gibson's Donuts - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jeremy Leake, Savannah Jordan, and Landon Hammonds at Gibson's Donuts

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