By Jonathan Williams
Times West Virginian
On its third year as a professional event, the annual Three Rivers Festival Pepperoni Roll Eating World Competition has attracted the top three eaters in the world to see just how many pepperoni rolls one person can eat in 10 minutes.
The record, set by Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti in 2012, is 33 Country Club Bakery pepperoni rolls.
When Joey Chestnut, the number one-ranked eater in the country, leaves Fairmont after the event, it may be even higher.
Guy Ward, a Three Rivers Festival board member and primary organizer for the contest, said Chestnut was invited and planned to attend last year, but circumstances prevented him from making it to Fairmont.
“He was graduating that weekend,” he said.
When the event started, Ward said, it was a contest featuring Fairmont State University and West Virginia University basketball students, with WVU’s Joe Mazzulla emerging as victor with five pepperoni rolls consumed within five minutes.
Ward was inspired by the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York to see if they could raise the profile of the event. After contacting Major League Eating, the group sanctioning the hot dog eating, the rest was history.