It’s a wacky world record some Marion County folks are trying to set, but with enough fire, sticks and marshmallows, they think they can do it.
“It is a whole new category in the Guinness Book (of World Records),” Steve Hudson, superintendent of Marion County Park and Lake, said of the attempt to set a record Saturday for the most people roasting marshmallows simultaneously at a single venue.
The idea was sparked last June when windstorms decimated trees in the park and along the lake.
“We had it all piled in a big brush pile and people began asking when are we going to burn it,” Hudson said.
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Then, people started making jokes about the brush pile, saying there ought to be a big marshmallow or wienie roast or something.
“We got online and asked Guinness what it would take,” he said. “We’ve been corresponding with them almost weekly ever since.”
And so, the idea was hatched. Hot dogs were ruled out because they were too expensive.
Hudson hopes at least 1,700 people will attend the event.
It will be no easy task, Hudson said. A cannon will be fired to signal the roasting has begun. The marshmallows must each be roasted for at least 10 seconds. They must be discolored, browned or blackened to qualify.
Nobody can eat the marshmallows until they’ve all been judged by the representatives from Guinness, who will attend Saturday’s event.
“They all have to be inspected or we are disqualified,” Hudson said. “Guinness standards are such that if we have more than 5 percent disqualified the whole event is kaput.”
No children under 4 will be allowed in the staging or roasting area, and children between 5 and 12 must be accompanied by an adult. And although the roasting is only expected to take 10 to 15 seconds, it will take two hours or more to pull off the event, Hudson said.
And if 1,700 people can successfully roast their marshmallows at the same time, what does this mean?
“It means recognition for the lake,” Hudson said. “And, if Guinness approves this, we might even get certificates.”
The gates will open at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The first 50 people to arrive will go with a supervisor to an assigned staging area, and this will continue until all the staging areas are full. Hudson is estimating a 5:30 p.m. start time.
For more information on the event, call the Marion County Park and Lake office at 620-382-3240.