our history main page, you've discovered that Hog Days began in
1947, 1949, 1952, 1954 or 1955. Significant evolutionary
turning points happened in each of those years that directly
impacted what we now call Hog Days. When the pop quiz asks
"When did Hog Days Begin?" you can accurately pick any of
those years and find someone to stand behind your choice.
However, if consensus rules, then the
best answer of all the above-mentioned correct answers would
be 1954. That was the year Kewanee celebrated its Centennial.
It was BIG! People came from everywhere to take part in the
celebration. The parade was top notch. Billboards all
over the surrounding countryside promoted this once in a lifetime
celebration. The big newspapers from Chicago to Des Moines carried
stories. And the planners of this once in a hundred years
event wanted something to knock everyone's socks off. The big
hook. The thing people would be talking about for the next
hundred years or so. And finally the idea came: "Let's feed
EVERYBODY...ALL 50 THOUSAND OR MORE people coming to this
Centennial...let's give each and every one of them a meal on us!
So...over 700 workers, 150 thousand pounds
of fresh pork, 7 thousand loaves of bread, 2 thousand gallons of
ketchup, 1 thousand pounds of salt and 25 pounds of pepper later, we
were ready to feed anything that moved at this Centennial thing!
Okay, one problem. When something's free, people have a tendency not
to treat it like when they have to pay for it. The streets
quickly became ankle deep in half-eaten sandwiches once the
free-feed was on. Sandwiches that people thought they or their kids
would eat but didn't ended up in the ever-mounting pile of street
garbage because, well, it was free anyway so really, who cares.
But you know, even though it was free to the consuming public, it
really wasn't, like, FREE free. SOMEBODY had to pay for all
that meat and bread and ketchup. And when the bills started
piling up, there were those who reconsidered the validity of the
overall greatness of the idea!
But they were right about one thing.
It WAS a BIG deal. EVERYONE was talking about Kewanee.
And here we are a lot of years past that 1954 Centennial and we
are STILL talking about it! Below are some clippings taken
from the July 16th, 1954 Chicago American newspaper.
So the next time someone says there's
no such thing as a free lunch, you can tell them oh yes there is.
It's just that most of us don't live long enough to see it in our