Dan Gable to be main honoree at Fry Fest

BY IAN MARTIN | APRIL 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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The day before the first football game, wrestling will take center stage at the third-annual Fry Fest in Coralville.

Former Iowa wrestling head coach Dan Gable will headline the annual celebration of all things Hawkeye on Sept. 2, organizers announced today.

Gable's teams won 15 NCAA championships, including nine in a row from 1978-1986. At this year's Fry Fest, he will participate in a takeoff of the 1950s television show "This is Your Life," in which friends, family, and other guests will talk about Gable.

Event organizers hope Gable will bring even more patrons to an event that has attracted an estimated 25,000 attendees in its first two years, said Josh Schamberger, the president of the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"If you've lived in the state more than five minutes, you've probably heard of Dan Gable," Schamberger said.

According to Fry Fest organizer and Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth, it was Schamberger's idea to involve Gable in the 2011 festival. And as soon as it was presented, the committee knew he was the man the members wanted as the focus for this year's event.

Hayworth said that as a former Iowa student who attended the UI during Gable's career, he understood how popular Gable is locally and worldwide.

"One of the things that was brought up today at the press conference was that Dan Gable is not only popular here, but he's got an international following," he said.

Gable's international appeal is due in part to his perfect run in the 1972 Olympics, in which he won a gold medal without surrendering a single point.

Fry Fest usually features an honorary guest or two, along with a notable music act. The announcement of the musician or band to headline the concert will not be made until May 13.

The second honoree at this year's event will be the Scottish Highlanders.

A former staple at the UI and Hawkeye football games, the band will hold a reunion in celebration of the 75th year after its founding, in 1936.

The group was active until 2008 and featured UI students playing bagpipes and drums. The group used to perform at the pregame and halftime of football games.

Formerly an popular fixture, the band is now gone, but the former members will be honored at Fry Fest as part of a larger weekend celebration. Eventually, former Highlander and UI Associate Professor Emeritus Penny Hall said, the group will have a permanent exhibit at the Hawkeye Hall of Fame.

"The Highlanders were an important part of the University of Iowa and all that is Hawkeye," said Hall, who was a piper in the group from 1961 to 1965.

Hayworth agreed, saying that even though the Highlanders aren't as popular with the current generation of Hawkeye fans, the event is supposed to celebrate the UI's past and present.

"It's an important part of Iowa history, and that's what Fry Fest is all about is looking at all the great things about being a Hawkeye," he said.

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