Fast fried dough feast delights at Franklin County Fair

  • Competitive eaters chow down during the 2023 Franklin County Fair’s annual fried dough eating contest. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Robert “Bobby C” Campbell commends winners of the 2023 Franklin County Fair’s annual fried dough eating contest. From left: third-place winner David Eddy, second-place winner Maxwell Wilby and first-place winner Ken Bacigalupo. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Children eat during the 2023 Franklin County Fair’s annual fried dough eating contest. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Competitive eaters prepare to dig in during the 2023 Franklin County Fair’s annual fried dough eating contest. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Third-place winner Jacobee McGivern, second-place winner Braeden Hydefrost and first-place winner Taimoor Dahlstrom-Hakki celebrate their victories in the kids’ division of the 2023 Franklin County Fair’s fried dough eating contest. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 9/15/2023 1:14:33 PM
Modified: 9/15/2023 1:14:01 PM

Having scarfed down a pizza-sized portion of fried dough in three minutes and 45 seconds, Greenfield resident Ken Bacigalupo is the greatest dough-devourer the Franklin County Fair has ever seen. And it isn’t close.

Since 2017, the fried dough eating contest has become an annual staple of the Franklin County Fair, drawing hundreds of spectators most years, according to emcee Robert “Bobby C” Campbell. The objective of the contest is to consume an oversized platter of Hager’s Farm fried dough, complete with maple cream and powdered sugar, as quickly as possible.

This year’s winner, competing Sunday afternoon, bested 10 opponents to smash the contest’s previous record of four minutes and 37 seconds by nearly one whole minute. A veteran of the hot dog eating contest, Bacigalupo proved to be well-conditioned for fried dough eating as well.

“I want a cheeseburger,” Bacigalupo declared immediately after his victory.

Bacigalupo’s strategy was to tear fistfuls of the dough from the platter, fill his mouth to capacity and use water to help flush it down, but the contest exhibited several means to the same end. Some taking their time just seemed happy to get a free serving of fried dough. Others competed with vigor, tearing off thin strips at a rapid pace to maximize efficiency and reduce jaw fatigue. One rolled up the dough and took bites out of it like a burrito.

“We’ve got a little bend-over special! We’ve got a little piece by piece!” Campbell shouted as contestants started eating.

“Let the water do the work and your hands tear it apart,” David Eddy, of Chesterfield, New Hampshire, said of his tactics after placing third with a time of five minutes and 43 seconds.

“I’m gonna win. I’m not even going to process it. I’m gonna win,” Deerfield resident Maxwell Wilby said of his approach after placing second with a time of five minutes and 15 seconds.

Sunday afternoon also featured a kids’ bracket where 10 children, ages 6 to 13, faced off with more standard-sized servings of fried dough. Although their division was not formally timed, 13-year-old Taimoor Dahlstrom-Hakki emerged the clear victor with a time of under five minutes, followed by Braeden Hydefrost, 13, and Jacobee McGivern, 12.

“My strategy was to fold it up so that I could get the most into my mouth at once, rather than just having a thin strip,” Taimoor explained.

Campbell said while “weather put a damper” on the contest in terms of attendance and ambiance, it was still “a real special one” due to the love shown toward the Hager family, whose Colrain barn had burned down the day before. Event staff circulated a donation jar at the contest to benefit Sherry and Chip Hager, who were each present frying and serving the contest’s dough as planned.

“You saw Chip up there smacking the powder on everything, and [Sherry] came … and they’re very dear to my heart,” Campbell said. “I love them. That’s why I do this.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or


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