County lake director aiming for record marshmallow roast



Marshmallow roasts are normally all about fun and games. But on March 24, it will be about setting a world record.

?We want to try making this a record attempt for the most people roasting marshmallows simultaneously at a single venue,? Steve Hudson, superintendent of Marion County Park and Lake, told 30 Marion Cham?ber of Commerce members at their regular Friday luncheon.

The idea, Hudson said, came up following the windstorm last June, which resulted in a lot of downed tree branches and debris.

?After the storm, we just stacked everything up into a burn pile,? he said. ?I had people asking me when we were going to burn (the pile).?

That?s when he first considered having a large hot dog or marshmallow roast.

?I talked to Brian (Thiessen), my assistant at the lake, and asked him to see what we could do about getting into the Guin?ness Book (of World Records),? he said.

Thiessen went online to research Hudson?s request and discovered the new marshmallow roasting category.

Setting a world record in a new category, though, is going to require a lot of help and organization, Hudson said.


How it will work

With more than 20 pages of rules and requirements, Hudson said it is going to take a lot of people working in several different areas.

?Starting at 3:30 p.m.,? he said, ?we will bring people into the staging area. We are expecting 1,000 or more volunteers to set the record.?

The fire will be lit between 5:15 and 5:30 p.m., depending on the weather.

?We are going to let the fire burn up and burn down before bringing everyone around it,? he said.

A whistle, horn or siren will be used to signal everyone to put their marshmallow into the fire at the exact same time and for at least 10 seconds, Hudson added.

Ways people can be disqualified include not getting the marshmallow cooked enough. It has to be charcoaled or black and marshmallows must be on a roasting stick.

?People can?t just throw the marshmallow into the fire and then try to dig it back out,? he said.

Description of burn pile

Hudson said the burn pile at the county lake measures 18 feet tall and about 150 feet long. People might wonder how people will get close enough for the roast.

?I just want to clarify the pile will be moved so that people will have more room to work,? he said.

About a month prior to the event, firefighters and lake personnel will burn off the prairie grass to the north on the backside of the lake, lay straw and then transport limbs.

?We will line up the limbs making it about 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide,? he said. ?It will go at least an eighth of a mile long.?

The reason for the length is if it is extremely windy, people can crowd around on one side rather than both sides, Hudson said.

?All safety precautions will be taken,? Hudson said.

Volunteers needed

The event requires that notary publics sign affidavits by supervisors compiling paperwork. The paperwork will be submitted to Guinness Book of World Record officials, Hudson said. A video is required as evidence, and photos that have to match what was done at the event.

?For every 50 people counted in, we must have one supervisor,? he said. ?I would like to have some supervisors sign up now so we can start planning meetings about how things need to be done.?

Hudson said he will need 20 people to volunteer as supervisors with 10 more serving as alternates.

What to bring

Those planning to participate are encouraged to bring their own roasting stick, bag/lawn chair and bottled water, he said.

The roasting stick can be a willow stick, 9-gauge wire or a clothes hanger, but Hudson said some will be available for those who don?t have one.

?Please tell your friends and family,? he said. ?Everyone in and outside of Marion County is welcome.?

In addition to checking with local fire departments and emergency management services regarding safety requirements, Hudson has also contacted three major marshmallow companies?Rocky Mountain, Kraft Food and Shure Fine?for possible donations.

?We are getting a hold of Boy and Girl Scout troops, too,? he said.

Video footage, other help

Gene Winkler of Marion volunteered to film the event and provide the public address system.

A bucket truck will be positioned on the high side of the road, Hudson said, and Winkler will be in the ?crow?s nest.?

Hudson said he has asked the Marion school district about running two school buses as shuttles because no parking will be allowed on the blacktop road near the event.

?If any vendors who would like to be involved, they can set up outside the participating area,? he said. ?These vendors can sell popcorn, pizza or other foods. But the big thing is they have to deliver food to people inside the (marshmallow roasting) area.?

Anyone age 12 and under will be asked to have adult supervision in the roasting marshmallow area. No one will be allowed in the area except those doing the roasting, he said.

Why do this?

Hudson said he believes the marshmallow roast will be a lot of fun for everyone.

?It?s a family-oriented event and no alcohol will be involved,? he said. ?My personal goal is to get (the video of the roast) on ?Good Morning?America.??

Marion Chamber of Commerce director Margo Yates said, ?Let?s go for all the networks.?

Hudson said he feels blessed to have a chance to give back to the community.

?Rain or shine, it?s going to happen March 24, so bring an umbrella just in case,? he said.

The reason for choosing March was because if the event was in June or July it could be too hot to stand close to a fire.

?The marshmallow roast will also give recognition to our towns and the county for thinking outside the box,? he said.

Hudson said perhaps a sign could be made that states: ?On this site a world record was set for the most marshmallows roasted.?

For more information or to volunteer to help, call Hudson at 620-382-3240.

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