Kudos to the two people who recommended the Hot Dog Safari at the last minute...and a POX upon the 10-15 Nattering Nabobs of Nacho Cheese who whined about how bad it was! You couldn't be more wrong.
The crowds were no worse than at most festivals, the lines for hotdogs ranged from 30 secs to 15 mins, max (3 hours?! - who said that? maybe for the gyros in Arlington...), and things were still going strong right up close to 4:00. Our senior-in-tow complained a *bit* about the crowds, but added "at least it's not like that thing around the corner" (Eastie Italian fest, later in month).
I managed to try every last dog in there (about 15 booths, IIRC; see below), with the exception of Fuddrucker's, which packed up rather early (2:00). Hubby tried every one at least twice (again, except for Fuddruckers - just bad luck as to which order we chose), then went out and ate like 12 ice-cream cups. FURTHERMORE, on our way out the door he stacked up a doggie bag of like 22 more (!) dogs and sausages to take home. (This in addition to a feedbag from Entermann's containing 12 two-packs of brownies, 4 blueberry muffins, 2 pieces of carrot cake, and some sort of fudge)
The pleasant surprise was chop-suey sandwiches at the Kowloon booth. It made a nice palette cleanser every 4 hotdogs or so. The unpleasant surprise was nothing else "exotic" - the bison and ostrich dogs of years past were nowhere to be found. Just 2 sausage booths and about a dozen hotdogs.
From memory (in order from entrance):
THURMAN'S - OK
PEARL DOGS - OK
KOWLOON - chop suey sandwiches. A bit bland, since we had to use regular mustard (no soy sauce or hot mustard around), but welcome nonetheless. I'm glad just to know there's another place in the area making them (see Willows discussion in the "Bob's" thread).
FENWAY FRANKS - OK
PEARL FOOT-LONGS (not sure why their booths were separated) - excellent. I don't usually like the long and thin types, but the meat was far better. Perhaps this was the first beef one, and the others had been pork? Or vice versa?
KELLY'S - alas, not a roast beef sandwich as hoped, but just another hot dog. And one which I found WAAAAAAAAY too salty. Others were raving about it, though, claiming that it was the only booth with toasted buns (not entirely true; one of two).
I cannot imagine that the meat itself is that much saltier than anyone else's; I suspect they're either toasting with VERY salty butter or adding salt to the bun outright. In any case, I use a lot of salt myself, but I couldn't even finish that dog.
?? SOMEONE I'M FORGETTING - trying to visualize layout as I type
JOHNSONVILLE BRATWURST - thought it was great the first time through; rather disliked it when I tried a bite of hubby's #2 or #3.
THE SAUSAGE GUY - I can't remember! Which is a shame, since it was the most popular booth in there.
(Hubby has at least 2-3 of them in the doggie bag; I will post an update after trying one)
?? SOMEONE ELSE I'M FORGETTING
NEW ENGLAND HOT DOG COMPANY - this place offered a lot of toppings: cheese, swiss cheese, melted nacho cheese, sauerkraut, onions, bacon (not "bits", but real-life bacon!), cole slaw, a couple of other things I forget.
Toppings were great, but the dogs stunk! Mine was stone-cold, and the toasted bun was either burnt or just horribly stale to begin with. The bacon and swiss I had on top couldn't mask this travesty. Hubby's coleslaw and onion was great though. Either he got a much better dog, or the juiciness of all the cole slaw was enough to atone for the underpinnings.
Hopefully the dogs are better in their restaurants, since one of the staffers gave us 13 coupons for "one free dog". 13! - we weren't even trying to weasel extras or ask him for more; he just handed out 4-5 of them per person at a time (times the 3 of us).
ENTERMANN'S ZONE - bit of a free-for-all. We could have gotten 10x as much as we did, but hubby is starting to look like Doug Heffernan as it is.
OUTSIDE - Hoodsies, juice samples, Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Somewhere out there were Cape Cod chips as well - we never found them, but the empty bags were all over the staircases.
BOTTOM LINE: For 10 bucks I had about 8 dogs, 2 sausages, and 3 chopsuey sandwiches (I stopped eating the bread after about #4), and a couple of hoodsies. Hubby had about 20 dogs, 5 sausages, and more chopsuey than the island of Taiwan. (I won't even speculate on his hoodsie count!) And we went home with about 22 more dogs, assorted types, plus $20 worth of junk food and $30-40 worth of future comps (coupons).
This event would have been a bargain at 30 bucks. At 20, a steal. At the 10 that we paid, it was just obscene.
It's all a matter of perspective, though. "Mom" had one hotdog, one chopsuey, and half a brat...and complained about the ticket price!
Finally, a note on the PUSHY CROWDS and general FILTH of the TRASH CANS -- we saw neither! The crowd was for the most part well-behaved, only a few line-cutters here and there (you guys had me picturing Filene's Basement!), and not too many strollers to contend with. Most of the booths had like 6-10 people in line (30 second wait); only 3 of them had "queues" of any sort: Kelly's - which moved so fast it didn't matter; The Sausage Guy, which did NOT move fast; and New England Hotdog Company, which moved slower than guacamole. Even the ice-cream line was only 3-4 people deep.
Tables got a bit messy as the day went on, but staffers did make an effort to wipe them off every now and then. And the trash cans were recessed, covered, and not even close to overflowing. (I can name a DOZEN street festivals where they are, though, so I do know the concept!)
Either the event has improved drastically since most of you experienced it, or you've all got some 'SPLAININ to do about those comments below!