Who will be the next Joey Chestnut of Key West? Before you Google Chestnut, we’ll save you the trouble. He’s the reigning Nathan’s Hot Dog-eating champion. But like many Key West events, a local business has intertwined its own twist with a popular event. This time, instead of hot dogs, it’s lobster rolls. And in Key West fashion, it involves the spirit of One Human Family.
On Saturday, Nov. 2, DJ’s Clam Shack will host its inaugural Lobster Roll Eating Contest to benefit Key West Cares, which was created by locals to provide ongoing relief to the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian’s devastation.
“We wanted to do a fundraiser for the people over there and let them know what they mean to us here in the Keys,” said DJ’s Clam Shack co-owner Doug Bell. “Like a lot of us in the Keys, I spent a lot of time there as a kid and it’s a special place for all of us.”
The lobster roll-eating contest kicks off at around 6 p.m. on Duval Street facing DJ’s, with radio personality Steve Miller emceeing. But Bell encourages supporters and spectators to arrive earlier for pre-game festivities that include $2 beers, T-shirt sales, Key lime giveaways and a raffle for an electric bike valued at $2,000. And the best part? Every dollar raised at the event will be donated back to Key West Cares.
“It’s important to help out and chip in when you can,” said Key West City Commissioner Clayton Lopez. “But that part of the Bahamas is a link to our history. The fact that they exist is the reason we here in Key West exist. And this is a fun way to support them.”
While Lopez is no stranger to giving back to local charities, the lobster roll-eating contest comes with personal heartstrings. Not only does the event take place in his district, Lopez also serves on Key West Cares’ event committee. But he won’t be the only local celebrity taking part in the 10 minutes of lobster mayhem. Six others will step up for an opportunity to be crowned champion.
Joining Lopez will be Key West Police Chief Sean Brandenburg, radio personality Landon Bradbury, former Fantasy Fest King Larry Blackburn, Rick’s complex general manager Fred Bushey and two other surprise celebrities to be named. In addition, local Monroe County Sheriff’s Captain Jonathan Crane will officiate the contest. While Crane has no experience with any type of contest, he is from Boston and said “I know a lot about lobstah, so why not?”
“We’re going to have a great time,” Bell said. “The lobster rolls will be modified to about two and a half ounces of lobster meat on a hot dog-style bun. And we are known for our lobster rolls across the world, so it just made sense we give back this way. Except instead of Nathan’s hot dogs we are doing it DJ’s style.”
As for Commissioner Lopez, he said he has a few predictions on who will win, but says he’s keeping that one close to his chest …”or maybe my belly.”
Note: Doug Bell would like to give special thanks to Craig and Cheryl Cates for all of their support to the event and Key West Cares. For more on how to support Key West Cares, visit them on Facebook or at www.keywestcares.com