A favorite pastime for KU Alumni Association staff members is the annual Kansas Wheat Festival held in Wellington. We’ve participated in the cow chip tossing contest for a decade thanks to the generous support of John T., b’58, and Linda Stewart, ’60, and alumni hosts David Carr, c’73, and Colette Kocour, c’73.
Two teams tossed patties this year, and the Rock Chalk Ringers, led by Emily Ellison, Danielle Hoover and Colette Kocour, finished in second place. The other team, the Rock Chalk Chuckers, headed up by Tyler Rockers, finished dead last.
According to Heath Peterson, vice president for alumni programs, Tyler convinced the team to go for the toilet rather than the points on the grid, which was a bad idea. “Tyler whiffed out of the gate, which set the tone for everyone else. If they awarded points for both style and bad strategy, we would have won hands down,” Heath said. David Carr and Don Short were also on the team.
After the contest, the teams celebrated their success (and failure) over dinner with several local Presidents Club members.
The group was back in action on Friday night, pulling the Rock Chalk trailer down Washington Street in the Wheat Festival Parade. Baby Jay worked the crowd like a star, and the staff and volunteers tossed T-shirts to the crowd. Many thanks to the Stewarts for once again purchasing the T-shirts.
“This was my first Wheat Festival, and I had a great time!” said Danielle Hoover, assistant director of Wichita programs. “Everyone was friendly and excited that we were there with KU gear during the parade.”
We’ve developed many KU friendships over the years in Wellington, which is a top notch small Kansas town. Each year, the Kansas Wheat Festival is a great opportunity to immerse ourselves in the community for two days and spread Jayhawk spirit.
Many of the KU Alumni Association’s events during the ‘Hawk Days of Summer are the types of events alumni might expect: receptions, happy hours and baseball games. One annual event, however, might make you wrinkle your nose out of curiosity–or perhaps from the smell.
For the past eight years, KU Alumni Association staff members have competed in the cow-chip throwing contest at the Kansas Wheat Festival in Wellington, and as noted in our video from 2011’s contest, the Rock Chalk Chuckers finished dead last every year until 2011, when they claimed third place with 145 points.
What’s a cow-chip throwing contest? Simple: put together a team of four people, choose your cow chips, limber up your throwing arm and try to land your chip in the cow-printed toilet in the middle of the street in downtown Wellington. (Don’t worry, gloves are available for the squeamish.) And if you don’t hit the toilet? You can still score points by landing your chip on the grid in front of the toilet–a strategy that some competitors swear by.
Or, if the whole thing still doesn’t make sense to you, just watch our video below:
“After eight years of competing, it’s clear that the density of the chip and scoring on the grid are the two most important factors,” said Heath Peterson, vice president of alumni programs. “My mindset has always been to go for the toilet, which has only worked out one time. I watch everyone else score on the grid every year; I need to change my philosophy!” (Click here to see his shot heard ’round the pasture in 2011.)
This year, the persistent Jayhawks tried to increase their odds by entering two teams and bringing in the big guns: Jeff Kennedy, j’81, chair of the Association’s Board of Directors; Camille Nyberg, c’96, g’98, chair-elect of the board; and Tim Caboni, KU’s vice chancellor for public affairs.
The strategy almost paid off: The Crimson and Blue Chips took second place.
Heath is already looking forward to next year. “My goal is to bring the Wheat Festival cow chip trophy to Lawrence for our display case at the Association. Once that happens, I’ll retire from tossing turds!” We’ll believe that when we see it.
Click here to view photos from the event, or watch the slideshow below.