Posted on Sun, Aug. 01, 2004


Hastings fest bids for title of world's largest Kool-Aid stand

Associated Press

HASTINGS, Neb. - Nebraska may soon know whether it is home to the largest Kool-Aid stand in the world.

Erika Nelson, a traveling artist from Lucas, Kan., researches the world's largest things and other roadside attractions across the nation. She will issue her verdict after visiting Hasting's Kool-Aid Days on Aug. 13-15.

Hastings is the birthplace of the sweet summertime refreshment. Lucas will compare the festival's 75-foot Kool-Aid stand with her research and determine whether it is indeed the globe's largest.

On the Saturday of the festival, the stand is the event's main draw. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., volunteers pour 14 flavors of the tasty potion in all-you-can-drink portions into purchased commemorative cups.

"You're the home of Kool-Aid," Nelson said. "There is nobody else in the nation that can say that."

But the honor of having the largest stand is still a just myth until it is researched and proven.

"It is a quest," Nelson said.

While Nelson's work might seem a bit silly, she said having the world's largest anything can mean tourist dollars for a community - especially during festivals built around the immense item.

A former college instructor and graphic designer, Nelson hit the road in 2003 on her mission to verify the world's largest things.

Each time she certifies a largest thing, Nelson creates the smallest version of it. She travels in a 16-passenger bus called the World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things Traveling Roadside Attraction and Museum.

Among the largest items Nelson has certified are the largest strawberry - of fiberglass - in Strawberry Point, Iowa; the largest pecan - of concrete - in Brunswick, Mo.; and the world's largest porch swing in Hebron.

The nature of items Nelson visits varies widely, from fiberglass sculptures such as the world's largest doughnut to edible things such as the world's largest pancake and temporary structures such as hopeful Hasting's Kool-Aid stand.



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