Contrary to a fictional news report on the Internet, the small Kansas town of Overbrook is not hosting its 21st annual dog meat festival this year.
It has never hosted a dog meat festival.
“No. No. No dog meat festival,” said Stephanie Watson, director of Osage County’s economic development.
Last week, the National Report, a spoof website, published a story claiming the Osage County town had been hosting a dog meat festival since 1992.
“2013 finds the town embracing their unique culinary custom and proudly exclaiming to the rest of the country ‘we eat dog and that’s okay!’ ” the fake story reads in part.
The report includes a photo of people at a festival.
“That’s not our downtown,” Watson said. “I’d like to have those streets in Overbrook but that’s not our downtown at all.”
Assistant city clerk Kit Bostrom said she’s received countless phone calls from people wanting to know if the National Report story is for real.
“I think some people read something like that and think, ‘Oh my gosh,’ and they believe it,” Bostrom said. “We’ve never had a first festival and we are definitely not having the 21st. No way. I’m a dog lover just like many others.”
Overbrook Mayor Don Schultz said he’s also received several phone calls in the past 10 days from police and the Kansas State Humane Society — prompted by people who are unfamiliar with the community.
“That’s one thing about social media, its reach is pretty unbelievable,” Schultz said. “Evidently, this posting on this website gave people the indication that we were doing something we were not.
“Not only was the story not true from a website that is very questionable. It posts things that the normal, average-minded person would never pay attention to,” he said. “The picture they had was a street scene that did not depict our town. Our Main Street is a block-and-a-half long. Their picture was a city scene with the name Overbrook, Ks. superimposed on a tent. Anyone who is acquainted with our town has laughed and then felt sorrow our town was picked on.”
Watson noted that Overbrook is located about 25 miles southeast of Topeka on U.S. 56. It is most famous for the motto “Don’t overlook Overbrook.”
The community was founded in 1886 and built along the old Santa Fe Trail.
Bostrom said she’s not sure what prompted the National Report’s story and that the people quoted in the story were names she didn’t recognize.
“I’ve lived in the area for over 30 years and know most of the 950 residents,” Bostrom said. “Those are names I don’t recognize.”