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North Adams Champ in Hot Dog, Doughnut Eating

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Caelan Briggs, 2, eats one of the hot dogs left over from the hot dog eating contest that his parents, Alecia and Tim Briggs, competed in. See more photos here.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — There were 15 in all, their cheeks puffed out and their eyes glazing over; a couple were clutching blue trash bags — in case what was going down decided to come back up. The crowd cheered as a few turned pale and another tray heaping with hot dogs was dropped in front them.

And that was just the halfway mark in the 30-minute contest to see who could stuff the most dogs down their throat. Fifteen minutes in, it was apparent that Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' was the team to catch — they would smoke both Williams College and a "townie" team by more than 25 weiners.

The Jack's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Main Street (courtesy of Jack's owner Jeff Levanos) was just one of the events happening on Saturday for the ROPES (Respecting Other People Encouraging Self-Esteem) Family Fun Day. The activities benefited the ROPES program operated by the North Adams Police Department.

The ropes course at Windsor Lake has had thousands of children participate over the past 13 years. With continuing cuts in state aid and community policing grants, the Police Department is using fundraisers to help keep the popular program going.

The day included a pancake breakfast, motorcycle charity run, a classic car and a motorcycle show, children's games, vendors, raffles and a Chinese auction. The annual Fall Foliage Arts and Craft was held downtown also on Saturday.

The afternoon was warm if wet, curtailing the length of the 50-mile motorcycle ride and possibly lessening the number of classic car owners willing to park their treasures in the rain.

Organizers, however, were happy with the number of residents who turned out.

"It seems like we did better than last year," said Officer Erik Thomas. Last year's fundraiser made $650 and this year's seemed likely to surpass it. "We're very pleased with the turnout all around ... A lot of people showed and it was a lot of fun."

Maybe not-so-much fun for the people trying eat all those hot dogs. The goal was for each team to eat as many hot dogs in 30 minutes as possible, with a one-minute break halfway through. Their groans could be heard over the crowd counting down to the second half.

The clear champ was MCLA senior Benjamin Edelberg, who said he lost count after three but is believed to have downed more than 20 hot dogs.

"I just had the confidence," said the Amherst resident, who was listening to Rage Against the Machine's "Evil Empire" during the contest to stay in the mood. Another motivation: "I was really looking forward to beating Williams."

Northern Berkshire police eat doughnuts and coffee to benefit the ROPES program.
Indeed, it will be tough for the Ephs to come back from this beating. The TrailBlazers were leading with 66 hot dogs at the halfway mark; Williams was trailing at 46 and the North Adams townies at 42.

It was no contest: the Ephs struggled through the final 15 minutes, keeping down 62 dogs between them. The townies, cheered on by the crowd, managed to scarf down seven more. But MCLA team members Edelberg, Alecia Briggs, Tim Range, Mike Latanzio and Don Frain were the champs with 88.

(The students are also members of Pi Upsilon Pi, better known as the Pines, which helped organizers set up the event.)

North Adams resident Briggs also earned bragging rights over husband, Tim Briggs, who competed against her on the townie team. "I can't believe my wife beat me in an eating contest," said the stocky Briggs.

Alecia Briggs devoured 18 franks to her husband's paltry 13. The trick was not to think about and just keep eating, she said.

"The two times they were counting down I had a mouthful, I was not even chewing at that point," she said.

Briggs and Edelberg may have had tougher going if they'd been up against North Adams Police Officer Greg Onorata, who handily won the Cop Doughnut-Eating Contest.

It was a little easier for the police, they only stuff themselves for five minutes. Why doughnuts? Well, said Lt. David Sacco, "if you can't poke fun at yourself who can you poke fun at?"

Eight representatives for North Adams, Williamstown, Clarksburg and Adams police departments — Onorato, Nick Dabrowski, Anthony Piscioneri, Brian Foley, Tania Hernandez, Kerry Columbus, Mark Bailey and John Bresnahan — were handed a dozen honey-dipped doughnuts and coffee to wash them down, courtesy of Dunkin' Donuts.

The finally tally was North Adams with 20, Adams 12, Clarksburg 11 1/2 and Williamstown Police Department 9.

Sacco reminded the crowd that all their donations were going to a good cause. "It all goes back to the kids, every single penny," he said. "No administrative costs, nothing comes out of the money you donate it. It all goes 100 percent back to the camp, back  for equipment, back to the kids."

    Jack's Hot Dog Eating Contest
1) MCLA - 88 hot dogs
2) Williams - 62
3) North Adams (townies)-4
Cop Doughnut Eating Contest
1) North Adams - 20
2) Adams - 12
3) Clarksburg - 11 1/2
2) Williamstown - 9

The MCLA Pines never stopped eating.

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Mass MoCA Readies for Summer Restaurant, Season

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

A conceptual image of the restaurant.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A Georgian restaurant out of New York City is planning a pop-up eatery at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art this summer.
The Mass MoCA Commission on Wednesday approved the seasonal restaurant to occupy the former Gramercy space, specifically the courtyard near the museum entrance. The restaurant would operate from Memorial Day until some time September.
"The operators for this pop-up restaurant are coming to us from Manhattan, where they run two restaurants with Georgian — as in, over-in-Europe Georgian — style food, and they recently, last year pre-COVID, hosted a dinner event for us so we got to know them and their delicious food," said Tracy Moore, the museum's interim director. "They would operate as many days as they could in the beginning as they staff up and ultimately gearing towards full lunch and dinner operations that comport with Mass MoCA hours."
Tamara Chubinidze, a native of Tbilisi, Georgia, opened Chama Mama in New York City in 2019 and has had plans to expand. The restaurant is appearing before 
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