By Sue Moore
It will be 43 years and going strong when the Vicksburg Lions Club opens the gates to the community pavilion on July 21, 22, and 23 for the Summer Festival, better known as “Beer and Bratwurst,” and further abbreviated to “B & B.”
This longevity is due to the hard work of the Lions Club over the years. The club first opened its doors for a party at the old Helms Garage in downtown Vicksburg to serve Otto Kaak’s homemade brats and sauerkraut and offer beer to go with this fine German combination.
It was a sellout hit for the Lions, launching the B & B as the chief money maker for the club ever since, according to Doug Stafinski, mastermind of the event for 16 years. The location for the festival has changed many times. In 2014 it found a permanent home when the Lions Club helped to sponsor the building of the community pavilion on N. Richardson Street, adjacent to the Historic Village. The pavilion is also used for the Farmers’ Market which will move its Friday, July 24 offerings to the grounds of the Historic Village for that one day of the season.
Kid Friendly Opening Night
The festival offers family fun on its opening Thursday night with games for the children, animal balloons that and a magician who was a big hit in 2015. Ron Jaxon will be back with an even bigger and better show this year according to Stafinski.
A Kidsight screening program aimed at identifying future and existing vision problems in children will be offered free by the Lions International to visitors on Thursday, June 23 from 6-8 p.m. The screening practice uses a special camera to take a picture of the child’s eyes and is one of the organization’s important services to the community. It is hoped that at least 50 kids will take advantage of this service. They also collect eyeglasses for reuse in developing countries at various locations in downtown Vicksburg.
For the first time, a band is being offered for entertainment on Thursday night. The Hatfield and McCoys will take the stage from 9 p.m.-midnight to keep things rocking.
Cornhole Tournament on Friday
The ever popular cornhole tourney takes place from 6-9 p.m. on Friday with a double elimination and a draw for partners. Last year the winning combination of Steve Heath and Bill Rager took the prize. There were 92 players in 2015. It is expected that 100 players will sign up this year.
The live music kicks in at 8:30 p.m. with the Back Roads Band playing until 12:30 a.m.
Horseshoes are King on Saturday
The annual horseshoe tournament will begin clanking at 11 a.m. following the Vicksburg High School Alumni breakfast. The graduating class of 1965 will play host to this year’s 1966 class that is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The requirement to attend this get-together is having graduated from Vicksburg 50 years or more ago or be the spouse of a graduate. It’s a time for seniors to remember the “good old days,” and try to guess who that person is from out of town that hasn’t been seen in decades.
The horseshoe tournament is an annual duel between some of the best players in the area with plenty of rivalry to go along with the boasts and beer. The champions last year were Jeff Mohney and Dan Mendham. The band South County takes over from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
There were 44 barrels of beer consumed in 2015, way down from the record 90 barrels a few years back. There were 2,000 brats sold. Since the club’s inception through the members’ hard work with the festival and other fundraisers such as the golf tournament in the fall, the members have put over $601,000 back into the community, according to Stafinski.