JUNE 17, 2020 — It started as a draft of local food items, and ended in hundreds of trips to local restaurants to spread the love, and enjoy our favorites.
The #DecaturFoodDraft began in April with 12 local sports names, like media members, coaches, a principal, and a faculty member, having a Fantasy Sports style draft of 10 food items each, to local restaurants. The goal was to complete your list first and win the bragging rights.
Eisenhower Baseball Coach Kevin Hale hit the Finish Line first, with his Lincoln Lounge trip on April 30th.
“The real winners were the great eateries in Decatur,” Hale said. “Our local diners and restaurants are fantastic and don’t get enough credit for making Decatur a ‘Foodie’ target on the map. To help them, and put a spotlight on how wonderful they make our lives, was a joy.”
WAND-TV’s Mark Pearson and Millikin’s Travis Wilcoxen each completed their list of 10 the following day, when University Dogs opened on May 1st.
Then, the rest of the eaters started crossing the finish line with their 10th food visit over the two months as Herald & Review Sports Editor Justin Conn finished fourth, followed by Central A&M Principal Charlie Brown, NowDecatur/WSOY’s Aric Lee, H&R Sportswriter Joey Wagner, HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital/Mt. Zion Athletic Trainer Dustin Fink, Maroa-Forsyth Football Coach Josh Jostes, Millikin Women’s Basketball Coach Olivia Lett, WAND-TV’s Gordon Voit, and H&R/SportTalk’s Tim Cain.
But it was so much more than just the bragging rights contest. In addition to the 120 restaurant visits from the 12 sports drafting squad, the public was encouraged to visit, and post photos using the hashtag. The winner was originally expected to win a $60 gift certificate to the local restaurant of their choice, but it was quickly anonymously bumped to $100.
“Ultimately, we just wanted everyone to win in the situation,” said one of the event’s creators, Aric Lee. “We win, because we eat great food. The restaurants win because we spend money there, and encourage others to do the same. And the public can even win, because we all threw in a few bucks to buy a gift card to the public member who visited the most places.”
And that winner was Decatur’s David Martin. Martin made just over 20 trips to local establishments over the 60-day event, but it was never about the prize at the end.
“Our local restaurants and bars are part of what make Decatur great!,” said Martin, who made many of those trips with his wife, Meg. “They are always generous when you’ve got a raffle or charity basket to fill, and the #DecaturFoodDraft was a fantastic way to have a little fun, while helping them out in their toughest time.
“Plus, I’ve always heard you should give back to what has shaped you as a person … a food draft, certainly gave me a chance to do that in the most literal way.”
The general public posted over 100 total trips to local restaurants using the hashtag and taking photos of their trip. Martin won $100 in gift certificates to locations of his choice, and he’s chosen the Lincoln Lounge and Doherty’s Pub, but that’s not all.
“Halfway through this I received another anonymous addition to the prize pot, crediting it to the Eisenhower High School Class of 2020,” Lee said. “So we get to split it up with the top three visitors.”
In second place was Decatur’s Brian & Robin Bridges, who made just under 20 trips to local restaurants during the competition, and Mike and Carly DeMeio visited 15 for third. Mike DeMeio is the new Argenta-Oreana Head Football Coach, so an invite to a possible bragging rights contest in 2021, could be in his future.
In addition, special salutes go to Sydney Unger, Josh & Laura Mahon, Casey Henderson, Shana Sloan, Scott Chapman, Andru Kunzeman, & Tonya Powell, who each made multiple stops for the cause, over the two months.