All West Virginia Hot Dog debuts at Huntington festival

WV Dog stand
The WV Dog stand at the West Virginia Hot Dog Festival received an enthusiastic response.

In the first ten years of the West Virginia Hot Dog Festival, they’d never seen anything like it. Imagine a hot dog for which every ingredient for all the components—meat, bun, chili sauce, and condiments—were sourced from West Virginia farmers and prepared by local food processors.

Well, in the 11th year, it arrived: the all-WV hot dog.

WV Hot Dog - 1 (15)
A traditional WV hot dog with chili, slaw, mustard, and onion.

The all West Virginia hot dog

In southern West Virginia the well-known WV-style hot dog is one dressed with chili, slaw, mustard, and onion (as is well documented at the official West Virginia Hot Dog Blog website).

I’ve never had a better tasting West Virginia-style hot dog than the one I had Saturday at the festival from the The WV Dog stand.

Long line at WV Dog stand
The longest lines of the day were certainly at the WV Dog stand. Folks waited in the hot sun for the all-WV sourced hot dogs. They weren’t disappointed.

What a great job the WV Dog stand organizers did in promoting local farmers. I know it was not an easy project. At the WV Dog stand, you could order the traditional WV-style slaw dog or customize your dog any way you desired with kraut, pickle relish, ketchup, and more — all from WV food producers.

Lindsey Good, 30 Mile Meal
Local foods coordinator Lindsey Good is the face of the all-WV hot dog, a project conducted by Huntington 30 Mile Meal. Good organized and promoted a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $5,000 in seed money to get the project rolling.

Several groups were key to effort

Many folks chipped in to help Huntington 30 Mile Meal, a local-food promotion and development group, put this project together. Project-lead Lindsey Good beamed with satisfaction at the great response their hot dog stand received. People lined up twenty- and thiry-deep all day to get a taste of the real West Virginia.

Of course 30 Mile Meal did not go it alone. Pulling the project together was a a big undertaking. Two of the biggest helpers were the Small Farm Center of WVU Extension Service and The Wild Ramp local foods store.

grilling weenies at the WV Hot Dog stand
Grilling off well over 1,000 weenies was a hot job on a hot summer day at the WV Hot Dog stand. The hot dogs contained local pork and beef from Mil-Ton Farms, Call Farm, and Working H Farms.

Food suppliers even showed up as volunteers to help at the stand. Randy Blatt, owner of Down Home Salads, made all the chili sauce, pickle relish, and slaw; and he also spent the day running the hot dog grill. That was a hot job on a hot summer day.

Gail Patton takes hot dog orders.
Gail Patton was busy taking orders for dogs at the WV Dog stand.

Gail Patton, executive director of Huntington-based Unlimited Future Inc., spent the day at the festival stand taking hot dog orders. She was among those instrumental in helping organize the all-WV hot dog effort.

Key ingredient producers

The hot dogs themselves were prepared in a couple of versions, which included pork from Mil-Ton Farms in Ona and beef from Call Farm in Milton and Working H Farms in Terra Alta.  Processing was done by Nelson’s Meat Processing in Milton, SS Logan Packing Company in Huntington, and Working H Meat Market in Terra Alta.

Custom hot dog
However you like them, you could get it your way at the WV Dog stand.

Making the buns took whole wheat flour from Tom McConnell’s, McConnell Mill in Terra Alta, that was then prepared and baked by Brunetti’s Bakery in Kenova.

WV hot dog components
The anatomy of a West Virginia hot dog by Huntington 30 Mile Meal.

A partial list of the condiments included:

Midway Drive In
Midway Drive-In is a long-standing Huntington hot dog vendor. Established in 1939.

Huntington, a hot dog hot spot

Huntington has long been home to a bunch of popular hot-dog specialty restaurants. While they may not have sourced all their ingredients locally, a number of the local hot dog restaurant stalwarts participated in the festival, including Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs, Midway Drive-In, Frostop Drive In, Sam’s Hot Dogs, and Sheetz.

The Midway Drive-In, established on Huntington’s West Side in 1939, was recently featured on the Food Network program Guilty Pleasures.

Stewart's Drive In
Stewart Drive In is one of the most tradition rich venues for the West-Virginia-style hot dog.

Maybe the grand-daddy of hot dog joints, Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs was established in 1932 and is still going strong. Like some other hot dog joints, they are also famous for their root beer. Stewart’s owner was one of the founders of the WV Hot Dog Festival.

Frostop Drive In stand
Frostop, like all the popular hot dog joints, had a big line all day.

Another long-standing Huntington hot dog joint is Frostop Drive In. It is known for its curb-service where patrons typically order hot dogs and a frosted mug of root beer. Huntington seems to have more hot dog specialty restaurants than most other cities in the region.

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Wiener Dogs
WV Hot Dog - 1 (18)
Were Everywhere

A highlight of the Hot Dog Festival were the wiener dog races. Lots of folks brought their dogs with them, all sizes and colors. The races were especially fun for the many children in attendance. Profits from the festival support the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

Pullman Square
The WV Hot Dog Festival takes place annually at Pullman Square in the heart of downtown Huntington, WV.

As usual, it was a light-hearted fun day at the WV Hot Dog Festival, but one made much more special by the presence of the all-WV-sourced hot dog.

These efforts go to show that even the most common of popular foods can be produced with locally-sourced ingredients. It wasn’t a simple project for 30 Mile Meal, but it definitely was worth the effort.

Huntington 30 Mile Meal
Huntington 30 Mile Meal promotes locally-sourced food.

Huntington 30 Mile Meal is a “hyper-local” food project that focuses on increasing direct marketing between farmers/producers and food businesses. The Huntington area supports a growing number of local food outlets, both restaurants and food markets.

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