The Great Muckville Blog Free Bloomin’ Onion Essay Contest!


Back on Sunday December 8th it was formally announced that Iowa would play LSU in the Outback Bowl and that night I launched a campaign on this blog and on Twitter for Outback to give me a free Bloomin’ Onion for being a 4th generation family onion farmer who is also an Iowa alum!


A mere 6 days later, after a handful of blog postings and a number of tweets I was followed by Outback on Twitter and contacted on Twitter. Not only did they agree to give me a free Bloomin’ Onion certificate, they actually gave me 6 so I could give the others away on my blog!



On December 23rd I gave the first certificate away to my dad, because he said he wanted to go to Outback and try a Bloomin’ Onion, since he has never had one. So, since he is my dad and does a lot for me, I gave one to him.


For the last few weeks I have struggled though with how I would give away the remaining 4 certificates. Trivia questions are easily solved via Google and didn’t seem all that interesting to me. Then, while sitting in bed and fighting off a headache it hit me … an essay contest!

So here is the deal … I convinced, via social media, Outback to give me a free Bloomin’ Onion! You need to do the same to me … hence …

The Great Muckville Blog Free Bloomin’ Onion Essay Contest!


In no less than 500 words and no greater than 1,000 you need to, in a humorous or creative fashion, convince me I should award one of those free certificates to you! Specifics:

Contest run date: January 2-31

E-mail your essay to: Please include your snail mail address so if you are a winner I can mail you the certificate.

All 4 chosen winning essays will appear on my blog!

So, get those creative juices flowing and e-mail me those essays!

Since I am in the midst of my Crowd Funder Show campaign to fund an editor for my memoir … I had to mention it!

Please support my Crowd Funder campaign for raising funds for a professional editor for my memoir. For every dollar you contribute you get a matching dollar for dollar gift card from places like Best Buy, Sears, Home Depot and Toys R Us, amongst others.

Can you support a small family farmer who does public policy work by getting his memoir ready to be published?

The first free Bloomin’ Onion gift certificate is presented!

I called my dad on the phone in the barn and asked him: “Do you want that free Bloomin’ Onion gift certificate still?”

Dad: “What? Yes, I still want it. That’s where your mother and I are going next. By the way, we went to Olive Garden last night and our server may stop today … nice young girl, gave her the address. She’s from Honduras or somewhere. Wants to see the farm.”

Me: “Okay, great. But you still want the certificate? You won’t waste it, will you?”

Dad: “What are you talking about? I’m not going to waste anything.”

Me: Well, come to the house and get it.”

So, my dad came to the house and I formally presented the certificate to him!

Once again, thank you Outback!


Previous blog posts:

Outback Bloomin’ Onion Update!!!!!

As blog readers are aware on the night the Iowa Hawkeyes were announced to be one of the teams playing in the 2014 Outback Bowl, Sunday December 8th, I began a campaign … no, a quest to get a free Bloomin’ Onion!

My reason for requesting a free Bloomin’ Onion? Well, I’m a 4th generation onion farmer that also happens to be a very proud alum of the University of Iowa (M.A. 1990).

Soon after I initiated this blog and Twitter campaign to get a free Bloomin’ Onion Outback started to follow me on Twitter and gracefully obliged my request. In fact they did one better … they said they would send me 5 additional certificates to give away on my blog!

And today, December 23, 2013 … those certificates for free Bloomin’ Onions arrived in the mail!


So, in the coming days, when I’m not in a Percocet induced stupor … I have to come up with some sort of contest to award the free Bloomin’ Onion certificates.

Now, I may only have 4 to give away versus 5. The reason? Well, as my dad was driving to me to one of my recent doctor appointments this week I told him about my free Bloomin’ Onion quest. My dad is a huge fan of Texas Roudhouse but in the car he said to me:

“Well, I was thinking of taking your mother to Outback. One of those free certificates would be nice. That’s the best kind of onion to eat … free.”

Since my dad so graciously drove me to 3 different doctor appointments I am in no position to say no. So if he does still want one, he gets it. And then I will provide his review of his Outback dining experience. Brace yourself Outback, my dad is brutal when it comes to eating and dining experiences.

Look to this blog for an upcoming contest to award the other free certificates. Also I must once again acknowledge Outback Corporation for seeing the humor in my request and so graciously granting it.

I’m just kicking myself, as I said in one of my blog entries, that I set my sights so low, for a free Bloomin’ Onion. As I stated in one of my blog posts:

Now I wonder … do you want to send a deeply in debt onion farmer, his wife and two kids to see the game with complimentary tickets, airfare and lodging? You can also feel free to support my Crowd Funding campaign:

Maybe next time Iowa plays in the Outback Bowl Outback Corporation will feel compelled to send a struggling 4th generation small family onion farmer who is an Iowa alum and his wife and two sons who are diehard Iowa Hawkeye fans on an all expense paid trip to the game to watch Iowa play in a Bowl game (an experience non of our family has ever experienced)!

Also any support by Outback of my Crowd Funding campaign to pay for an editor for my unpublished memoir about life on the farm and Capitol Hill will be extremely appreciated!


Bill Braine’s blog entry and Crowd Funder Show update

A few weeks ago during my failed Kickstarter campaign my new friend Bill Braine wrote this fantastic blog piece about my project and campaign:

Bill is a fantastic writer and wrote a really nice bog article about my memoir and some of my past activities, including my $150K for a 50lb bag of onions on eBay ad:

I hope people can take a sec and read Bill’s blog entry. And then check out my new Crowd Funder Tv Show campaign. Unlike Kickstarter it is not “all or nothing” and the rewards are dollar for dollar gift certificates for places like Sears, Best Buy, Home Depot and Toys R Us. So, if you plan on doing any shopping at any of these locations you can essentially support my project for free!

If you support me you are helping a farmer that has done volunteer public policy work in behalf of his community for the past 17 years. You are doing more than just helping one person, you are helping a community and an industry!

Any and all help is very much appreciated! It means a great deal to me knowing there are so many avid supporters of farmers out there! Thank you!!!!!

Oh, Outback tweeted me a couple of days ago … the free Bloomin’ Onion gift certificates are in the mail!

Go Hawkeyes!

Outback and The Crowd Funder Show!

Just got a Twitter message from Outback. They are putting in the mail today my free Bloomin’ Onion certificates! Look to this blog for a giveaway for the other 5 free Bloomin’ Onion certificates!

Thank you Outback!

My “The Crowd Funder TV Show” campaign now has 11 backers with a total of $500! A fantastic start! Help me keep the momentum moving forward … please back if you can and spread the word! When you back me you are supporting a worthwhile campaign and for every dollar you contribute you get a matching gift card from places like Best Buy, Sears, Toys R Us or Home Depot … essentially if you are planning on shopping at any of these locations in the near future it is like supporting me at no cost to you!

See this older blog entry for more details:

That posting also discusses the new website for my public policy organization that works on issues related to vegetable and fruit farming … Farmroot!

Farmroot will be a codified organization that will better help me help out the farming community, especially specialty crop farmers, in terms of the promotion of good public policy initiatives!

Finally, after much angst, pain and trepidation I visited my ENT Specialist’s office this morning and learned I have some sort of fungus in my ear, quite possibly black mold, a mold I actually sometimes get on my onions!

You simply can’t make this stuff up!

Update on Crowd Funding Campaign and my Bloomin’ Onion Quest!

Sadly, my Kickstarter Campaign has now failed.

Here is the message that I posted on the page to the 41 wonderful people that chose to back and support me on Kickstarter:

I want to first thank everyone that has backed me and spread the word about my project! I am extremely grateful. 

You are not just helping me get a book published, you are helping me to continue to do the public policy work my wife and I have been doing for the benefit of our community the past 17 years and what my memoir details. Our goal has always been to help out farmers, our community, our friends. That’s what the book is about.

I do have exciting news … my Muckville-hire an editor project now will be featured on the Crowd Funder Show. When you back me for every dollar you back you get a gift card from places like Best Buy, Sears, The Gap, Toys R Us or Home Depot of equal value. Total win-win. It’s like supporting me for free.

You have backed me on Kickstarter and I am very very appreciative of that, but if that campaign fails (Kickstarter is all or nothing) I hope you consider backing me on this program. Again, not only are you supporting a worthy cause you can receive a gift card worth the matching value of your donation at a place you will probably be purchasing soon from anyway.

Link for my blog article about it:

Finally, the new website for my new public policy organization that focuses on supporting specialty crop farmers, vegetables and fruits, is up … check it out:

Again, I am truly humbled by all of the support and appreciation shown for the work that Eve and I have done over the years!


One other update: Outback is not only giving me a free Bloomin’ Onion they re sending me 5 additional Bloomin’ Onion certificates! I will be giving them away via some sort of contest on this blog! Look for the contest to come soon!

Bloomin’ Onion campaign update … OUTBACK IS GIVING ME A FREE BLOOMIN’ ONION!!!!!!

So, as I was digging around the internet I found this article from SB Nation:

The article is entitled “2014 Outback Bowl rooting interests: Coconut shrimp vs. bloomin’ onion”

The article in part states:

Iowa’s playing LSU in the Outback Bowl, but the real story will be off the field! Way off the field, because nobody who eats bloomin’ onions will be in any shape to be playing any football for a while. Outback Steakhouse has the details:

Victory or defeat, everyone gets free eats Jan. 2nd. If LSU takes home the Outback Bowl trophy, Outback will give away free Bloomin’ Onions nationwide. If Iowa prevails, it will be free Coconut Shrimp for all. Just say “Outback Bowl” to your server on Jan. 2 to score the free app.

Simply lock eyes with your server. Hold your server’s gaze for some time. Grin. Signal for your server to come closer. Yes, just like that. Whisper in your server’s ear, like Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, “Outback Bowl.” Choke down your reward.


A free Bloomin’ Onion … IF LSU WINS????????????????

Seeing this I immediately posted a comment to the article with a link to my initial blog posting about my quest to get a free Bloomin’ Onion:

I then took off for the Twitterverse and started posting replies to anyone that tweeted about this … including the author of the SB nation article and Outback.

A few minutes later I got a tweeted response … FROM OUTBACK ITSELF!

In fact, they tweeted to me multiple times. Here is the exchange:

@ChrisPawelski Everyone wins at the @outbackbowl! If Iowa wins, you get free Coconut Shrimp and if LSU wins you get a free Bloomin’ Onion

@Outback @outbackbowl Uhm … I don’t want shrimp. I want a Bloomin’ Onion. You need to read my blog to learn why. 

@ChrisPawelski But we can arrange a Free Bloomin’ Onion for you before game day. DM us your mailing addy #outbacksurprise

@Outback AWESOME! WILL DO! Thanks #Outback!

@ChrisPawelski Anything for a 4th generation onion farmer! Without you, there wouldn’t be Bloomin’ Onions

Link for the entire exchange:

So now I am getting a free Bloomin’ Onion and Outback is now following me on Twitter!

Thank you so much Outback!!!

Now I wonder … do you want to send a deeply in debt onion farmer, his wife and two kids to see the game with complimentary tickets, airfare and lodging? You can also feel free to support my Crowd Funding campaign:

LOl … just kidding! But all kidding aside … thank you Outback!