By Sue Moore
Brats, sauerkraut, beer, music, horseshoes and cornhole all come together in one big fancy summer festival. Scheduled in Vicksburg on the weekend of July 26-28 and lovingly called the B & B, for beer and brats, it is a tradition going back to 1973.
This will be the fifth year of the B & B hosting the event in the Pavilion on Richardson and Spruce streets. The attendance has increased and the Lions Club which sponsors the event has been able to raise more money to give back to the community, according to Doug Stafinski, long-time coordinator of the festival.
In fact, Stafinski will mark his 18th year as the go-to guy for all questions and answers that are needed. When he took over planning in 2000, three years before his retirement from the post office in Vicksburg, he found that spending on supplies and other equipment had suffered from duplication. He put all the ordering on a spreadsheet so overlap was eliminated and waste was down to a trickle. However, the weather can have a big influence on that equation, he noted.
“There were years when we have had tornado warnings and once a torrential downpour while at the Richardson Street address before the Pavilion was built. There were kids on the volleyball courts who were having great fun sloshing and sliding all over head first until I reminded them that they might be drinking water seepage from the old dump that was once in use there,” Stafinski said with a chuckle.
The festival has moved around from its original site in the old Helms building in downtown Vicksburg, a location now owned by Frederick Construction. It outgrew the location after just a couple of years and was moved to the old Harre & Fink Implement building next door, also owned now by Frederick Construction. A pole barn next to the railroad tracks on property just north of what today is Family Fare was the next location.
It became somewhat claustrophobic on hot summer days. A move to a larger building on W Avenue near St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church followed. The next location was a former dump next to Brady Township Hall. Shortly thereafter, all the tents and activities were moved to Vicksburg’s Recreation Park. The problem with that? The public couldn’t find it as easily. What to do?
The Lions Club joined forces with the village and the Farmers’ Market to build the pavilion which now houses both activities and is much more in the public eye. It offers good parking, cover from rain and room for cornhole and horseshoe competitions, Stafinski said.
He manages to get everybody involved from the club members right on down to his wife Deb, daughter and son-in-law Katie and Brett Grossman, son Eric and very shortly his grandkids who are learning to take responsibility and get the job done. They are following in enviable footsteps.