DEXTER, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – Hundreds turned out for the second annual Maine Red Hot Dog Festival in Dexter Saturday.
The event, centered on the iconic red snapper hot dog, served up plenty of the state delicacy—some people even feasting on a plate-full for the eating contest.
“They’ve got a character to them,” Jared Lisherness said, “"I think Mainers tend to eat a lot of weird stuff anyway. So why not the red hot dog?”
The event aims to pump thousands of dollars into the town as part of its revitalization.
“It's pretty important for us because things are declining. Business are moving out and kids are moving away,” Frank Spizuoco with Dexter’s Revitalization Committee said.
Spizuoco said the event is the only one of its kind in the country. The partnership with W.A. Bean & Son’s, that manufactures the hot dogs in Bangor, is an integral part of the event, according to Spizuoco.
"It's just the uniqueness,” he said. “People from away, they crave them when they're gone.”
"It's just a symbol of what we knew when we grew up” Janice Keyser said.
For Keyser, who grew up in Dexter, coming home was bittersweet.
"It was sad to see the town so rundown,” she said. “We really appreciate the fact that people are being proactive to bring the town back.”
Area businesses poured into the streets to sell their food and goods, and a number of local bands performed throughout the day.
Organizers said it was really about drawing people to the small town, centered on the uniquely-Maine dog.
"We started thinking of different ideas--different Maine ideas and the red hot dog was just at the top of the list,” Diane Parola said.
Parola said the event is made possible thanks to the generous support of countless local sponsors. Because it was such a hit, they plan to hold it again for a third time next year.