FryFest Breaks Hokey Pokey World Record
CORALVILLE, Iowa - They put their right foots in, they put their right foots out, and with former Iowa football coach Hayden Fry watching, a world-record crowd shook it all about Friday night.
Fry returned to the second-annual FRY Fest, the celebration named in his honor that precedes the Hawkeye football season, which kicks off Saturday.
The highlight of this year’s event – besides the appearance of Fry himself, of course – was a successful attempt to set a Guinness World Record in the Hokey Pokey, the signature celebration of Fry’s teams after big wins.
The official count was 7,384 dancers outside the Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, which bests the old record of 4,431 set in 2003 in Toronto.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we just won another one,” Fry said afterward. “You are now members of the Hokey Pokey team.”
The 81-year-old Fry himself stood by and watched, saying bum knees kept him out.
“I know I can get my left foot in, but I’d struggle like hell to get it out,” he said.
The dance lasted for five minutes and anyone not taking part was scratched by Guinness stewards roaming the crowd. The count was taken by giving people wristbands.
Liberty Bailey, 10, of North Liberty, collects the Guinness books and was excited at the prospect of being part of a record-making event.
“Honestly, I would just freak out,” she said before the dance. “I would probably hang the book up on the wall.”
Randy Riecks of Alta in northwest Iowa danced the Hokey Pokey in a circle with his family on what was his 60th birthday.
“It was kind of a birthday present,” he said. “I’ve been a Hawkeye fan since about 1955.”
FRY Fest also included what was billed as the world’s largest Hawkeye trade show, with more than 70 vendors offering a variety of Iowa-themed goods. There also was a car show, pep rally and concert.
The star, however, is Fry himself. Just ask Cale Yoder, an 8-year-old from Lone Tree who said the favorite thing he’d seen at the trade show was, “Hayden Fry.”
Fry led Iowa from 1979-98, won 143 games and three Big Ten titles and took Iowa to 14 bowl games.
Iowa comes into this season with probably the highest expectations since Fry’s heyday, ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press poll.
The last time Iowa was in the preseason top 10 was Fry’s 1988 team, which finished the season a disappointing 6-4-3.
Cale’s dad, Lane Yoder, was optimistic about this year’s team.
“I think it has a chance to be a real special season,” the season ticket-holder said.
Another former Iowa football coaching great was recognized Friday as Stadium Drive north of Kinnick Stadium was renamed Evashevski Drive in honor of Forest Evashevski.
For all of Fry’s accomplishments, Evashevski arguably is the greatest coach in Iowa history, winning three Big Ten titles and two Rose Bowls as coach from 1952 to 1960. He then served as Iowa’s athletics director until 1970.
Evashevski died last year at age 91
“You can’t talk about how great the Iowa Hawkeyes are without talking about Forest Evashevski,” UI President Sally Mason said.
She spoke at a ceremony held in the shadow of Kinnick Stadium that attracted more than 150 people, including members of Evashevski’s family and more than a dozen of his former players.
One of those players, Jim Gibbons, a star at Iowa and in the pros, remembered Evashevski’s presence, saying everyone knew when he walked into a room.
“He was a man above men,” Gibbons said..
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