Chowin’ down on a good time
HUNTINGTON — Judging by the turnout of more than 10,000 visitors to the 8th annual West Virginia Hot Dog Festival at Pullman Square, sponsored by Clear Channel Radio in Huntington, it seemed safe for Oldies 97.1 morning show host Mark Wood, better known as “Woody,” to declare the event a success even before the sun set over the Tri-State.
“It’s fantastic. There’s been a great crowd and great weather, which has made it easy for people to come out and have a good time,” he yelled over a live cover of the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love.”
“When you look back on the first year, we didn’t know what to expect, but it’s grown a lot. We’re happy it has grown, and we’re excited to see it grow even more.”
What started out as a day with just some live music and a hot dog eating contest has steadily expanded into a street-closing all day festival full of events like the “Bun Run/Walk Your Buns Off” 5k and a “Buns on Bikes” family bike riding event, and contests ranging from the traditional hotdog eating and root beer drinking to bun stacking contests and wiener dog races.
Of course, those activities don’t even include the variety of vendors, who lined Pullman Square and 3rd Avenue selling concessions, jewelry, apparel and even cigars.
The cost of attending the event was free, but sales from the day benefitted the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital. The Hot Dog Festival has raised more than $100,000 for the hospital in recent years.
To say the least, it’s an event that gives back to the Tri-State in a variety of ways, Woody said.
“It’s a family friendly event on many levels, and, really, it’s so friendly that you can even bring your family dog,” Woody said. “It’s not just hot dogs. There are inflatables, games and so many other activities that parents can let their kids participate in without having to worry about what they might be getting exposed to.”
It definitely was the kind of event to which Amanda Mannnon, of Proctorville, Ohio, felt comfortable bringing her young son, Caleb.
“It’s a good time, and it’s a good way to promote downtown,” she said. “For a lot of years people kind of let it get away, and a lot was left behind. It’s good to see people get it going again and to see so many people coming out and having fun in this part of town again.”
Caleb said he would recommend the event to his friends too.
“I wanted to see the (dachshund race), but jumping in the jump box was my favorite part,” he said. “It’s really fun.”
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