West Virginia Hot Dog Festival

Huntington, West Virginia’s wealth of hot dog emporiums is celebrated each July at a tasty food event. 

West Virginia Hot Dog Festival in Huntington, West Virginia (photo courtesy of iHeart Media)

This city along the banks of the Ohio River is home to nearly a dozen hot dog emporiums — some with multiple locations — that make the summer food staple their primary business. 

This local frenzy for frankfurters dates to 1932, when Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs opened. Now in its fourth generation of family ownership, Stewart’s is joined by many other establishments, including Frostop, which is simple to spot with its giant mug of root beer on the roof. Hillbilly Hot Dogs is also easy to find along the roadside, thanks to the huge jumble of junkyard treasures surrounding it — both rustic and rusty. Guy Fieri’s Food Network series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” featured the eatery’s famous Homewrecker, a 15-inch, all-beef hot dog. 

Although many of the offerings in town might seem remarkably similar, locals swear they could be blindfolded and still know which ones were made where because of the various chili sauces served atop them — many with closely guarded secret ingredients. Other topping choices include onions, bacon, barbecue sauce and even nacho cheese or sour cream as well as a distinctive local favorite: sweet-and-creamy coleslaw. 

Huntington celebrates its hot dog heritage during the West Virginia Hot Dog Festival the last Saturday in July. The full day of entertainment, music and contests includes the Wiener Dog Race, a crowd favorite in which dozens of dachshunds dash for the finish line. Other events include a Pooch Parade, a dog costume contest, a Buns on Bikes race, a cruise-in and the popular hot dog-eating and root beer-chugging contests. The 2023 West Virginia Hot Dog Festival is July 29. Visit wvhotdogfestival.com to learn more. For more information about hot dog spots in Huntington, go to visithuntingtonwv.org.