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Pete 'Iron Gut' Smith wins Fargo bacon-eating contest

FARGO - Pete Smith earned the nickname "Iron Gut" for a reason: He eats a lot of bacon.

Pete "Iron Gut" Smith with his trophy for winning a bacon-eating contest, and a beer. Adrian Glass-Moore / The Forum
Pete "Iron Gut" Smith with his trophy for winning a bacon-eating contest, and a beer. Adrian Glass-Moore / The Forum

FARGO – Pete Smith earned the nickname "Iron Gut" for a reason: He eats a lot of bacon.

His signature move is grabbing a handful of bacon, squeezing out the grease, and shoveling the balled-up bacon into his mouth.

Using this method, he blew past the competition at the bacon-eating contest at the third annual Bacon & Beer Festival at Scheels Arena on Saturday.

The crowd watched partly in amazement, partly in horror, as Smith ate a huge plate of bacon faster than the four other people on stage.

He was awarded a trophy and one year's supply of bacon.

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At one point, it looked like "Iron Gut" would lose the contest he won the previous two years. He suddenly turned his back to the crowd and convulsed, like he was going to vomit. But he maintained his composure and finished strong.

Afterward, his girlfriend, Joan Hattlestad, told him to "please clean your face."

"I need a bath," he said.

Smith was still hungry. He looked forward to competing again in the afternoon and eating some quarter pounders at a fast food restaurant.

"Everything I do, I overdo," he said.

The 55-year-old West Fargo man has a basic philosophy: live life to the fullest.

"I like to eat, I like to drink," he said. "I wake up in the morning with a smile on my face."

The festival, sponsored by Bernie's Wine and Liquors, had other attractions, such as beer samples, bacon-based snacks and a mechanical bull.

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Sandy's Donuts made its first appearance at the festival this year with maple bacon Long Johns. The sweet-savory combination makes it "kind of a weird thing," said Ann Olson, the manager of the downtown Fargo location.

Olson said she was not the biggest fan of the doughnut. But she was alone in that opinion. People kept coming up, eating a sample and moaning with delight. "People are going crazy over it," she said.

Pete "Iron Gut" Smith with his trophy for winning a bacon-eating contest, and a beer. Adrian Glass-Moore / The Forum
Tyler Heins, dressed as a bacon strip, and Emily Duma, wearing a beer bottle costume, pose for photos with patrons Saturday, March 5, 2016, during the Bacon & Beer Festival at Scheels Arena in south Fargo. The event featured the region’s top 25 eateries and more than 100 specialty craft beers in a competition for the festival’s Squealer Award. David Samson / The Forum

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