When did Arenzville start making burgoo? For over a hundred years, members of the Arenzville community have gathered to make burgoo. No one really knows who made the first burgoo in Arenzville or how it came to be an annual tradition. Some speculate that the practice originated with the Indians or, more likely, was brought into the region by settlers from Kentucky or Virginia. The first mention of "burgoo" in the Village records is a request to the town board in 1906 from a group of citizens who asked for permission to block off street traffic for a burgoo. However, most people agree that the Arenzville burgoo-making tradition existed long before then. A local butcher had an annual tradition of cooking soup for a gathering of the men in the community, and eventually, the practice became a community-wide festival.
Read a 1953 newspaper article about the "Arenzville Homecoming."
How is Arenzville burgoo made? Preparations start several days in advance, and the recipe has been used for many decades. Ingredients go into the kettle in the wee hours on the night before the soup is to be eaten. All night long, volunteers tend the kettles, making sure that once the soup starts boiling, each 50- to 75-gallon kettle is constantly stirred to avoid scorching. Custom-designed motorized stirring machines are used on most kettles today, but long wooden paddles are used when the soup is nearly ready to serve, after about 14 hours of cooking. The work of organizing and producing the soup and the festival events is done entirely by volunteers, organized into various committees. Each job is important to the success of the event, and helping hands are always welcomed. (Click here to see the 2014 list of committees.)