Indiana 4-H Foundation is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The director of the foundation, Sherry Bingle-Coffman, enlisted the help of a former 10-year 4-H member, the 2009 Miss America, Katie Stam, Seymour, to come up with a way to publicize the anniversary at the fair.
Her answer? Build a 50-foot long hot dog and then let 50 4-H kids dig into it. While it may have sounded far-fetched, they were able to pull it off. First-lady Sherry Daniels even joined the celebration.
"We wanted some event that would really bring recognition that this is the 50th year of the Indiana 4-H Foundation, and this seemed like a natural," Stam says. 'We were lucky to find people who were willing to help us pull it off."
The 50-foot hot dog was assembled in the auditorium of the 4-H Exhibit Building at the Indiana State Fair. Fifty feet in tables were lined up in front of the stage. The hot dogs were donated by King David's Dogs, a company that operates a restaurant in Indianapolis, and cooked by a chef from Bartow Catering, who provides food service on the state fairgrounds.
"We're doing this to raise publicity about the Indiana 4-H Foundation," says Bob Grimm, Boone County, current president of the Indiana 4-H Foundation. The Foundation was started in 1961 to raise scholarship money to help former 4-H'ers, and that's still one of our main functions today.
"We awarded over $75,000 in scholarships this year," he notes. "Our surveys show that the majority of 4-H'ers want to go to college, but many need help. That's where we come in."
The 4-H Foundation is supported by donations from charitable contributors. Many kids who receive scholarships go on to become leaders in their communities, Grimm adds. To him, that's what 4-H is all about.
Once the 50-foot hot dog was assembled, 50 4-H'ers were invited to stand behind the table, lean over and take a bite out of it. Even the former Miss America and Indiana's first lady took bites as well. Later the hot dog was cut and enjoyed by the audience.
The 50 4-H'er s who participated in the actual tasting were urban 4-H'ers from the Fountain Square Academy in Indianapolis, notes Renee McKee of state 4-H at Purdue. It's a science-based school, and 4-H officials have established three clubs there, she said.