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West Virginia Day celebration sees unveiling of Capitol murals and naming of Hot Dog Sauce champion

West Virginia Press Association Staff Report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The State of West Virginia celebrated its 161st birthday in style Thursday, with the unveiling of four new murals in the capitol rotunda, and the announcement of the top three finalists in the “First Lady’s West Virginia Day Hot Dog Sauce Cook-off” contest. 

More than 140 hot dog sauce recipes were entered, with the top 10 being “taste tested” by Governor and First Lady Jim and Cathy Justice, as well as Secretary Randall Reid-Smith of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. A total of 1,000 hot dogs were prepared for the attendees of Thursday’s celebration. 

 “Everybody loves hot dogs, right?” First Lady Justice asked just before announcing the winners. “That’s why we decided to do the contest with hot dog chili.”

Marian Weber, of Green Bank, submitted the third place entry. Weber’s chili, known as “Old Harlan Hammer,” is made from venison, ginger root, and sausage. Unfortunately Weber was unable to attend the celebration, as she is vacationing out of state. 

“The second place entry was from here in Charleston,” First Lady Justice said. “The lady learned the recipe when she was seven-years-old, on a camping trip with her aunt. […] Her name is Selina Burke.”

For her second place submission, Burke was awarded a $300 gift certificate. 

“Our Grand Champion winner is from a band boosters organization,” First Lady Justice said. “She makes all the hot dogs for the children in the band, and it’s just a great, great recipe.”

“It was unanimous that this was the winner,” First Lady Justice continued. “This is from Calhoun County – Paige Tony.”

For being named Hot Dog Sauce Grand Champion, Tony was awarded a $500 gift certificate. The three finalists were not told of their final placement in the contest until the time of the announcement.

In addition to the 1,000 hot dogs and the official 2024 state birthday cake, refreshments included West Virginia shaped cookies, and Babydog-designed cookies. West Virginia’s official state cake and punch, blackberry walnut and “Mountain Mama Punch” respectively, were also served. 

To close the celebration, Gov. Jim Justice said, “If you haven’t seen the murals and everything, you gotta get there and see them. That’s all there is to it.”

“God bless you,” Gov. Justice added. “You’re just showing West Virginia off and I love it to death.” 

Gov. Jim Justice, First Lady Cathy Justice and Babydog celebrate West Virginia’s 161st birthday.

New mural in Upper Capitol Rotunda


Feature image caption: (Left) Second place winner Selina Burke congratulates Hot Dog Sauce Grand Champion Paige Tony. West Virginia Press Association photo