Wurst Festival
Wurst Festival

By Madison Rutherford


What do beer, hot dogs and puns have in common?

Well, nothing really but they’re all par for the course at the Wurst Festival Ever, an annual event presented by Short Leash Hotdogs that celebrates National Hot Dog Day with creative cuisine and comedy.

The event, which will take place in Short Leash’s parking lot on Saturday, July 21, is a block party-style bash complete with tents and misting systems so attendees can sip brews and sample dogs without breaking a sweat.

According to Short Leash’s co-owner Brad Moore, eight other restaurants will be cooking up crowd-pleasing concoctions. Attendees can sample hot dogs for $3 a pop and wash it down with a beer for $5. Admission is $10.

“That money is to help pay for the event itself but also pay the comics for their time,” Moore says. “And so we can reimburse the restaurants for their time, effort and food.”

Local stand-up comedians will be serving up laughs while attendees nosh and network. There will also be a pun competition, which anyone is welcome to enter at shortleashhotdogs.com. To be selected, contestants must answer a series of questions to prove their pun skills.

According to Moore, attendees can also sign-up the day of the event in what is referred to as a “pun-in” and participate in a “pun-off” to qualify. Contenders will engage in a rapid-fire exchange of puns based on different categories announced by the emcee. If they take too long, repeat a pun or fail to come up with one, they get a strike; three strikes, you’re out. The last pun standing wins.

“Last year, one of the categories was ‘construction.’ I think the two guys that were in the finals sat there for what seemed like 10 or 12 minutes and they just went back and forth with different puns,” Moore recalls. “It’s really impressive to see people who are so quick-witted.”

The participating restaurants will also engage in a friendly competition to see who can come up with the most creative hot dog toppings, and hot dog connoisseurs across the Valley can submit their own combinations for a chance to be crowned the “Wurst Wiener in Phoenix;” wiener takes all.    

“They’re all going to come out and create their own hot dog and then either online or at our restaurant, customers can submit topping options of their own,” Moore says. “We’ll pick a winner from all of those and serve it at the Wurst Festival.”  

These aren’t your typical ballpark franks. Winning toppings have included everything from Brussels sprouts and bacon to popcorn and cheese curds.

Don’t be discouraged if you have dietary restrictions — there will also be meat-free options.

“At our restaurant, we always have vegetarian and vegan options,” Moore says. “And then, with the restaurants participating, we ask them to bring a veggie option of their own, too.”

Moore says the Wurst Festival has no specific goal other than good old-fashioned fun and making the best out of the worst time of the year.  

“Obviously the summer months are the hardest time of year on us so, so part of our rationale behind putting something together in late July is it’s something we can all participate in and hopefully make a little money, have a good event and reach a bigger audience,” he says.


Wurst Festival Ever

Short Leash Hotdogs, 110 E. Roosevelt Street, Phoenix, shortleashhotdogs.com/wurst-festival-ever, 602.795.2193, Saturday, July 21, 5 to 10 p.m., $10.

For more events downtown, visit our events page.