Diane and Will Pharr (current hot dog owners) hosted a hot dog party last Saturday at their beautiful Buckhead home for all of the members of the super-secret Festival of Friends Hot Dog Society as well as for potential hot dog bidders. For the first time on record, the "Citizen" was able to capture a photo of the members of this super-secret, exclusive club. Pictured (left to right) are all of the previous and current owners of the hot dog: (front row) Ginger Gardner, Diane Pharr, Will Pharr and Chris Lambert, (second row) Emmie Smock, Carol Vernon, Rosemary Buttermore, (third row) Mickey Smock and Penny Lyle, and (back row) Stephen Cooke and Bob Lyle. Photo by Dianne Yost

Diane and Will Pharr (current hot dog owners) hosted a hot dog party last Saturday at their beautiful Buckhead home for all of the members of the super-secret Festival of Friends Hot Dog Society as well as for potential hot dog bidders. For the first time on record, the “Citizen” was able to capture a photo of the members of this super-secret, exclusive club. Pictured (left to right) are all of the previous and current owners of the hot dog: (front row) Ginger Gardner, Diane Pharr, Will Pharr and Chris Lambert, (second row) Emmie Smock, Carol Vernon, Rosemary Buttermore, (third row) Mickey Smock and Penny Lyle, and (back row) Stephen Cooke and Bob Lyle. Photo by Dianne Yost

By Dianne Lively Yost, Biz Buzz columnist

No doubt: The heat and humidity of a Morgan County summer hits its peak each August with soaring temperatures, the Perseid Meteor Shower, freshly grilled hot dogs (more on that later) and special traditions like the beginning of school and the highly anticipated annual Festival of Friends event. It’s hosted each year by tireless volunteers and the members of the Morgan Memorial Auxiliary and the event raises thousands of dollars to fund programs and equipment needs for Morgan Memorial Hospital.

This year, it’s slated for Aug. 24 and like many a Southern tradition, the event kicks off with cocktails. Festival of Friends 2013 participants will gather at the James Madison Conference Center for a cocktail party and silent auction before heading to a selection of themed dinner parties.

But unbeknownst to most, lurking in the shadows of this event is a super-secret society, if you will. One that’s as exclusive as the inner workings of the Church of Scientology! In fact, this secret society is so dang secret, it doesn’t even have a name.

All we can say at this point is that at its center revolves a shiny, yellow and red, plastic, talking hot dog. And, each year this secret society allows in another member.

Being the investigative crackerjack that it is, the Citizen was able to crack the case and reveal for the first time each and every member of this Festival of Friends Hotdog Society. Wait for it. . . Wait for it . . . The members of this exclusive group are as follows: Leigh Lambert Goff, Chris Lambert, Carol Vernon, Bob and Penny Lyle, Stephen Cooke, Rosemary Buttermore, Mickey and Emmie Smock, Ginger Gardner, and Will and Diane Pharr.

The Talking Hot Dog is actually a silent auction item that has risen to star status! A star so bright, in fact, that some secretly estimate the Talking Hot Dog has contributed at least $2,000 to the Festival of Friends effort. And each year its auction price rises like steam on Georgia asphalt after an August thunderstorm. But, know this: Membership has its price. Not only must you out-bid all bidders, but you are required to host a party prior to the Festival of Friends inviting all previous talking hot dog owners as well as potential hot dog owners!

On Aug. 24, this now not-so-secret society is hoping to see a record-breaking bid on the Talking Hot Dog! Festival of Friends attendees listen up: Stuff your wallets with cash and get ready to bid on some fabulous silent auction items.

While none of the other silent auction items come close to comparing with the Talking Hotdog, many will surely be popular. Among some of the silent auction items are: a Caribbean vacation, six-month membership to Madison Fitness Center, a manicure and pedicure at Petals Salon as well as paintings, gift certificates, cakes, wine glasses, tennis lessons and more!

A tradition for 13 years, in addition to the cocktail party and silent auction, the Festival of Friends involves a series of dinner parties– each uniquely themed and participants are encouraged to dress the part. Over the years, attendees have seen Elvis, belly dancers, tacky Vegas high rollers, hula dancers, movie stars – you name it. For dinner reservations or more information, contact Jodie Schmidt at jschmidt@anewleaforganizing.com or give her a call at 706-474-8225.