Once every five years, the town grows by thousands. In June, our KSN cameras were there for one festival that you may have never heard of. It is called the Herndon Ox Roast. It takes 1,500 pounds of boneless chuck roast, a mix of vegetables cooked for 26 hours. Then, gravy is made out of the drippings.
KSN News visited Mark Solko. He comes from a long line of roast experts.
“My dad was the head cook for many years, my uncles and great uncles. It has kind of been a family thing,” said Solko.
The thing is cooking the massive meal for Herndon’s epic festival. It is now over a century old.
“The first ox roast in Herndon was 1914. The story always goes there was an old cowboy from Louisiana that was up here when the railroad came through, that is where we got our recipe from,” said Solko.
The recipe begins before thousands of people line up for a taste.
“Twenty-four hours prior to putting the meat in, we dig a pit that is big enough for the pan. It is seven feet deep. We have four feet. We always put a marker around it. We fire the pit with ash wood, and we try to get four feet of coals. So, we have to fire it all throughout the night. It is a 24-hour process,” said Solko. “Once the pan is ready, this morning at 9:30, we put it in the hole. We set it on top of the coals and covered it with metal and put dirt on top of it, 3,500 pounds.”
A ton of work, but feeding 4,000 people takes almost a ton of food.
“Fifteen hundred pounds of boneless chuck roast, 75 pounds of carrots, 75 pounds of apples, 45 pounds of onions, 45 pounds of green peppers,” said Solko.
It is not about the chow. It is about bringing people together.
“We don’t have trouble getting a crowd here once they taste it,” said a festival-goer.
The event is to rekindle old friendships and celebrate Herndon.
“We really make it a point to come and see family, a lot of people have moved away because of a small town. So living in Denver and Wichita, any other place, it is a reason to come back and see people,” said Solko.