Six things you need to know about his weekend’s Wurst Challenge

Now that we’re just about five days away from Ypsilanti’s third annual Wurst Challenge, things are really beginning to heat up. Following are a half dozen or so things that you should probably know.

THE COMPETITORS… As of right now, eight heroic individuals have accepted the “20 Feet of Meat” challenge. They include returning champions Knifebeard SausageHawk [2014] and The Big Gulp [2015], local music legend Jim “Colonel Mustard” Cherewick, world renowned roboticist Cre “Master Muscle” Fuller, homeless advocate Quinn “Fill ‘Er Up” Phillips, and artist turned thespian Caleb “Night Man” Zweifler. And, just entering the race today, we have esteemed history professor Russ Olwell, who has been named the designated eater for Eastern Michigan University, and Buck Von Thundergut, who will be representing the brilliant folks at Ann Arbor’s DUO Security. [We’ve yet to hear whether or not the men and women at Nutshell, HookLogic and Deepfield Networks intend to accept the challenge laid down by DUO to join them, but we’re hopeful that they’ll likewise assign eaters to compete in our new tech division.] …As in years past, only the top ten fundraisers will move on to face their “20 Feet of Meat” in Sunday’s head-to-head competition.

13254055_10209521741909630_4554156932951261156_nBREAKING FUNDRAISING LEVELS BY BREAKING ALL THE RULES… So far, Team Smoot, the group that won last year’s fundraising award, have been the most aggressive on the fundraising side of things, bringing in donations right and left for their competitor, last year’s winner, William “The Big Gulp” Henderson, seen to the right intimidating his arch rival, Cre “Master Muscle” Fuller, during one of his public training sessions on Cross Street. [All donations, by they way, are tax deductible, and go toward furthering the mission of downtown Ypsilanti’s FLY Children’s Art Center.] As of right now, Team Smoot has secured nearly $1,000 in donations from the likes of Sidetrack Bar and Grill, Original Moxie, Desktop Dog Creative, DartOut by Kartech, Tap Room Comedy Night, The Eyrie, Fangs and Twangs, Full Circle Bar, BrewSkee-Ball, Muse Atelier, and My Trivia Live, all of whom, in exchange for their donations, were offered advertising space on the extra-large jumpsuit that The Big Gulp will be wearing as he attempts to consume his 20 foot long bratwurst. [Last year, Henderson consumed 3.258 pounds of sausage.]

THE PRESS IS BEGINNING TO PICK UP… While we’ve yet to see coverage in the Washington Post, or on Fox News, like in years past, things are definitely beginning to build. Today, an article appeared on MLive, and tomorrow a few of us will be going into the WEMU studio to talk about the importance of arts education and the joys of communal sausage consumption.

THE BEER WILL BE STRONG… I’ve just received word that, among the beers that Lagunitas Brewing will have on tap at the event will be their 9.3% ABV Undercover Investigation Shutdown, which was created in commemoration of the day in 2005 when they were busted by The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for smoking dope in the workplace. And, not only will the very powerful Undercover Investigation Shutdown be on the menu, but Lagunitas and the Wurst Bar will be donating all proceeds from the sale of that particular beer to FLY Children’s Art Center!

WHY YOU SHOULD SUPPORT FLY CHILDREN’S ART CENTER, REGARDLESS OF YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT SAUSAGE… FLY believes that the ability to solve problems with creativity fuels a healthy community and enables kids to build bright futures. Since 2009, FLY has provided hundreds of kids with powerful, hands-on, creative experiences in free after-school workshops across Washtenaw and Wayne counties. The FLY Creativity Lab (76 North Huron Street, inside Ypsilanti’s Riverside Arts Center), launched in 2013, brings interdisciplinary workshops, camps and events to area youth.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP… There are a few things. First, and probably most importantly, you can choose a competitor to back, and make a contribution to FLY on his or her behalf. Second, you can come to Ypsilanti’s award-winning Wurst Bar at 5:00 PM this Sunday to cheer on the competitors and drink strong beer for a good cause. And, third, you can help get the word out to your current friends, estranged family members, and former lovers about the event, which really is awesome, not just because it raises a lot of money for a good cause, but because it brings together the community in such a beautiful, interesting way. [Where else can you find university professors and people from tech companies greedily eating sausage alongside artists and musicians?] Oh, and lastly, you can still field a team. While there’s not much time left, it’s still possible to launch a successful campaign and make it into the final ten.

See you Sunday.


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  1. Elf
    Posted May 17, 2016 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Have you asked Harbaugh? He could use some more exposure.

  2. karen
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    russ olwell is an asshole.

    i have half a mind to show up and punch him in the throat with the hopes that he’ll choke.


  3. Peter Larson
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    It is interesting that you had so many problems with a product from KFC a few years ago, but have no problem at all with this event.

  4. Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure what your problem is, Karen, but that’s one of the more vile, mean spirited comments ever left on this site. You do realize that these people are contributing their time and energy to help a local non-profit, and that by attacking one of them you’re only making yourself look like an asshole, right?

  5. Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Are you referring to this, Pete? If so, I can see a world of difference.

  6. Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    And, Russ, if it’s any consolation, this is the same Karen who once speculated as to shape, texture and coloration of my penis on this site.

  7. Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    One last thing, Karen, I hope your hatred motivates you to make a big contribution on behalf of Team Smoot. While I find your comment absolutely disgusting, your money would still be welcomed by those of us who care about the kids of Ypsilanti.

  8. Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Team Smoot does not condone sausage-eating-related violence, and applauds all fellow contenders, reminding it’s about the kids and raising as much dough as possible for FLY. That said, supporting THE BIG GULP puts you on the winning team, so let’s go! :)

  9. Anonymous
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    If I were to guess that this was Karen Maurer, would I be right?

  10. Janice Anschuetz
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    go Big Gulp – go Team Smoot! Mark you need to do a story about the history of Team Smoot and the world records that they have earned with other talents including rock, paper, scissors and spinning.

  11. unsolicited public relations advice
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    If you’re going to attack someone publicly, make sure it’s not someone working to ensure that disadvantaged kids have hands-on educational opportunities. If you do that, you’ll just look like a dick.

  12. John K.
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Over the past several years Russ Owell has taken on a role as EMU’s “Person in Ypsilanti”. In that capacity, he serves on a few boards, including that of the Downtown Development Association. If I had to guess, I’d say that Karen, who owns multiple properties downtown, was displeased that a DDA vote did not go her way.

  13. KbSh
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Karen, I don’t believe it really matters what adjective you want to throw at someone when they are helping to raise money for a great local organization that inspires creativity in our communities youth. They may very well be what you say in some aspect of their lives, but ultimately does that really matter? So, for the next five days how about you keep your animosity to yourself and shell out a donation to one of the other competitors.

  14. Anonymous
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Tom Perkins, the headline practically writes itself: “Local developer threatens to punch DDA member in the throat during charity sausage eating competition.”

  15. Kurt Anschuetz
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Not sure why Team Smoot was tagged in Karen’s post but we appreciate support. Karen is not a member of team Smoot. Although, Karen is entitled to her opinion, I don’t know the guy, Team Smoot is about winning honestly and without violence (cops and ambulances make it harder to finish sausage). Karen please be creative and donate a lot of money against Russ and for us, that will show him.

  16. Rat
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Team Smoot, like the Bernie Sanders campaign, must distance itself from it’s violent supporters.

  17. Smoot Machine Must Be Stopped
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    They’re announcing now that they’ve secured a $200 contribution from Zingerman’s.

  18. Kat
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Surely DUO has the wherewithal to unseat Smoot.

  19. site admin
    Posted May 19, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Here’s the audio of yesterday’s WEMU interview:

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