Basalt River Days: A doggone good time |

Basalt River Days: A doggone good time

Joel Stonington
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

It was 30 seconds to go-time when the hot dog eating contest at Basalt’s River Days was held up for a moment in the name of condiments. Blaire Bayliss, 12, had attempted to squeeze some mustard onto her plate when she realized the bottle was still sealed.”We have to wait a second,” said emcee Dave Parker, and the crowd hushed.

So Bayliss unscrewed the bottle, tore off the seal and upended the bottle onto her plate. The crowd cheered when it glopped out.”It was just taking too much time,” she said later. “So I just dumped the whole thing on my plate.”The countdown began with looks of fierce determination on the faces of the dozen or so contestants. Then the wolfing of the 1-pound dogs began with a great struggle of masticating, dipping and even more masticating.

“I didn’t eat anything all day so I could stuff these down my throat,” Bayliss said later. “It was pretty hard because I’m a slow eater.”She polished off two full hot dogs. Her 5-year-old brother Bennet double-fisted the dogs throughout the competition.”I ate one-and-a-half and a lot of candy,” he said.Unfortunately the Bayliss kids only clocked in at roughly one hot dog per minute (HDPM). The winner, Kyle Spear doubled that HDPM.

In other words, 22-year-old Spear was able to knock off 4 pounds of dogs in two minutes. And he polished off a fifth after the race, washing it back with some gulps of beer. But really, Basalt’s River Days isn’t all about eating hot dogs (though it may have been the toughest competition). In the end, it was just a lot of family fun. There were kids dancing on the stage during Nina Storey’s set in mid-afternoon. “I came for Nina Storey,” said Aspenite Lacey Gaechter, “and it was worth it.”

Though the rain came, it went away just as quickly. The library did a brisk business on used library books, and kettle corn sold like Power Rangers once did on the day after Thanksgiving. Yep, another good River Days come and gone. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is


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