The World’s Largest Kool-Aid Stand will powder its own record when it adds two new flavors to the mix for this year’s Sweet 16 Kool-Aid Days celebration Friday through Sunday across Hastings.
In keeping with this year’s Sweet 16 theme, the stand will expand to include 16 flavors instead of its usual 14.
To accommodate the extra two flavors, which will be unveiled Friday, the cup sales booths formerly located in the end slots of the stand will be moved to another location near the Masonic Temple, making the stand more accessible to those seeking sips of the state’s official soft drink, said Trevor Terwey, office manager for Kool-Aid Days.
“The mug stand will be in its own separate space,” Terwey said. “That way, we can kind of decongest that area.”
Jodi Jacobi, Kool-Aid Days board member, said the stand and consumption of Kool-Aid have become synonymous with the event. So much so that a few sections of it will once again make an appearance Sunday at Lake Hastings during the Kardboard Boat Races Sunday.
“The stand has kind of become the iconic thing of the festival,” Jacobi said. “All the rest of this craziness has kind of built itself around that.”
Hastings businessman George Anderson built the 64-foot long Kool-Aid stand in 1999, when it was featured for the first time at the second annual Kool-Aid Days and quickly became a focal point of the celebration. Anderson helped hand-paint lettering for the signs heralding each of the 14 flavors being served at the stand.
Anderson told the Tribune at that time the stand was a much grander version of stands he used to serve from in his own driveway on North Kansas Avenue as a youngster. Built in eight detachable sections, the colossal stand features brightly-colored designs intended to match flavor packet designs, which in the first year included ice blue raspberry, Mandarin Tangerine, and Kool-Aid Fruit Ts, among others.
“Anything we can do for kids in Hastings is great,” Anderson said.
A portion of the iconic stand will be in use at the Klub Kool-Aid Days Sneak Peak event from 6-8 p.m. Friday at Hastings City Auditorium. Klub members will be privy to exclusive photo opportunities with Kool-Aid Man, receive free Kool-Aid snacks and be the first to try this year’s kid’s games. They will also have exclusive access to the latest Kool-Aid Kollectibles before the general public.
The stand will be accessible all day Saturday at is usual location opposite the City Auditorium. Visitors purchasing any of this year’s official Kool-Aid cup designs will have unlimited access to refills of Kool-Aid products served Saturday and Sunday.
The stand will be relocated to Brickyard Park early Saturday evening to serve guests attending Koncert Kool-Aid featuring Kahuna Beach Party Band. The park opens at 6 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. concert, which will be followed by a fireworks show. Admission is free with a Kool-Aid mug or T-shirt or $2 at the door (which includes a coupon good for $2 off all Kool-Aid Kollectibles).
Hundreds of classic cars will be on display at Brickyard during the event, courtesy Kool-Aid Cruise of America. The cars will depart from Highland Park at 4:30 p.m. for a 10-mile cruise of the city before arriving at Brickyard Park prior to the concert.
As for the record-breaking Kool-Aid Stand, Terwey said this may well be its final showing at Kool-Aid Days. Plans are already under way to retire the stand in favor of a newer, lighter version, possibly as early as next year. Terwey said the retired stand would then likely join retired Kool-Aid Man costumes from years’ past in the History of Kool-Aid exhibit at Hastings Museum.
“We’ve talked about doing a new stand next year,” he said. “It has seen its fair share of wear and tear. Plus, it’s very heavy to haul around in the heat of the day.”
Jacobi said that a more self-contained version of the stand would likely end a lot of backaches. Currently anchored by sturdy banquet tables, it continues to be a less-than-mobile-friendly monstrosity that requires much muscle to move.
“The front part is all plywood and two-by-fours, and then that is tied to heavy eight-foot tables,” she said. “We keep trying to kick around how we can build something that will still look like that on the front but will be easier to set up and be more self-contained.
“Again, it’s very heavy to set up, and because of the heaviness of the wood it requires us to use the heavy, old-style banquet tables verses the new, light, plastic ones. We’re still trying to come up with something that’s easier to carry but stable enough not to crash on us in the course of the day.”