Mike Mains, left, and Kelly Kitchens discuss the results of the cowbell promotion at Joe O'Brien Field during Saturday's game between the Elizabethton Twins and the Johnson City Cardinals. (Max Hrenda/Johnson City Press)
ELIZABETHTON — In a showing that would have sated all the yearnings of The Bill Dickinson — the fictional music mogul played by Christopher Walken in the popular Saturday Night Live skit, “More Cowbell” — fans of the Elizabethton Twins showed the world why their city was once known as Cowtown.
On Saturday evening, as the Twins faced off against the Johnson City Cardinals, their fans may have set the record for the world’s largest cowbell ensemble.
While Elizabethton may have earned the record last night, there is some dispute as to what the previous record may have been. The Guiness Book of World Records indicates that the largest ensemble occurred at a festival in Boswil, Switzerland, in 2009. The World Record Academy, on the other hand, lists the largest cowbell ensemble as a student event at Ryerson University in Toronto in August 2012, which claimed to have 1,003 participants.
Though there was some confusion as to the true record, Twins administrative assistant Kelly Kitchens said the club wouldn’t take any chances.
“We had 1,010 shipped here to the ballpark,” she said.
Additionally, according to Erik Kitchens — a member of the Elizabethton Twins Commission and special event volunteer — several fans took it upon themselves to assist in the breaking of the record.
“I’ve counted at least 25 personal ones people brought themselves,” he said. “Some people are holding two or three at a time. It’s a lot of fun.”
Before the conclusion of the game’s first inning, Kitchens said that all of those cowbells had been distributed.
“We have now exceeded (the Ryerson record),” Kelly Kitchens said. “I could not be happier. This is something great for our city (and) great for our ball club. It’s nice to be a part of something so big.”
After setting the record, Twins General Manager Mike Mains credited Kitchens and other members of his staff with the evening’s success. He added that the backdrop of the rivalry between the Twins and Cardinals may have also helped Elizabethton reach the record.
“When we put this promotion together, we were looking at different dates,” he said. “That just stuck out. It gave others from Johnson City a chance to come over and watch the game, too.”
In addition to serving as a promotional event, Mains said the cowbells were meant as an homage to Elizabethton’s former nickname, Cowtown. He added the bells were not the first time his club had paid tribute to the city’s former title.
“We pretty much have picked up on that for promotions,” Mains said. “We have our annual cow-milking, and we’ve been doing that for around 16 years now.”
While Mains offered a business-like approach to the event, others, like Erik Kitchens, couldn’t help but express their excitement.
“This is Cowtown,” he said. “This is how we do it in Elizabethton.”
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