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Local hotdogs come to UK Wildcats’ Kroger Stadium

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By Taylor Riley

 

A Henry County farmer has brought his hemp hotdog craze to a larger audience–fans flocking in to the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Stadium.

David Neville, owner of Kentucky Dawgs, LLC, is a life-long Henry Countian who made his entrepreneurial debut in 2016 when he made a healthier version of the school system hotdog.

Neville’s time in the service in Germany gave him his initial love for “rostbratwurst.” And in 2016, the executive director of the Kentucky Cattleman’s Association came to him to create an “unconventional” dog.

Partnering with the University of Kentucky, he merged local meat and hemp together to manufacture a different, healthier dog.

“Then, the dogs got legs,” Neville said. In 2016, 2,000 hemp hotdogs were sold at the Kentucky State Fair.

“It’s important to engage urban and rural folks,” Neville said about the success of the fair. That success put Neville’s dogs in Kroger stores around the state.

A domino effect followed. Mayor of Louisville Greg Fischer challenged Neville to make a healthier hotdog for the JCPS school system, without hemp.

Neville took on the project and exchanged the school’s filler hotdogs, which had 30-35 grams of carbohydrates, for a healthier dog that also made students happy.

He’s been serving ever since, and now he’s in 17 school systems in Kentucky. He recently challenged event-goers at a JCPS event to try one of the products to see for themselves.

“If they (kids) don’t like it, they’re not going to eat it,” he said.

The majority fell in love with the hotdogs and gave it “two thumbs up.”

Neville loves interacting with eaters but primarily with the kids.

“(They learn) there’s a farmer behind the product, that it’s locally made … it makes a difference,” Neville said.

The University of Kentucky reached out to Neville last year to have Kentucky Dawgs in the concession stand of Kroger Stadium where the Wildcats play football at home. 

It was a big project, but Neville said, “I grew up in Henry County, I ‘ain’t’ scared.”

The University provided a place to keep the dogs cool, warm them and sell them to customers at Gate 1, AKA the most trafficked gate at the stadium.

The dogs kicked off at the first home football game in August to a large crowd that wanted to try the beef hotdogs made with hemp and a spicy dog with Kentucky Smoky Jack cheese.

Neville sells the dogs at a higher price than most stands, but says that the customer pays for the quality product.

“I could do one of two things: I could be as big as Fischers’ (hotdog company) … but I would need to be cheap and put carbs in them,” Neville said. “I had no desire to do that. I wasn’t about to change.”

Neville said the total value of the product comes from staying local.

“It’s what sells our product,” he said. “Taste and the quality of the product are what people care about.”

He said once the people try the dogs, they say, “Price? What price?”

Neville still uses his cattle in New Castle for beef and also uses Campbellsburg’s Trackside Butcher Shoppe to harvest the animals Trackside processes the meat and sends it to Webb’s Butcher Block in Payneville, Kentucky. Neville tries to keep the whole process as local as possible.

“It really impacts a whole lot of people,” John Edwards, co-owner of Trackside, said. “(Consumers) know what (they’re) getting. People can feel good about helping local farmers.”

Neville is currently working on his eCommerce site, which should launch in the fall. He is also in the process of developing a mobile app for local farmers to connect with consumers to sell their local foods.

For more information, follow Kentucky Dawgs, LLC, on Facebook by searching “Kentucky Dawgs” or go to its website www.kentuckydawgs.com.

 

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