Part III - Setting the Stage

Throughout the town park, members of other committees are busy setting up the grounds for the next day's events. Milton and Jean Carls are busy in what will soon be the hamburger stand. A hamburger grill, deep fryer, refrigerator, water heater and tables are arranged in their approximate annual locations under a small shelter. As Jean washes down each surface, Milt and and Delbert Mueller assemble all the necessary connections to the water, electricity and gas. They are searching for a missing piece of gas tubing.

Milton Carls

Milt checks over the equipment already in place to see if the tubing isn't somewhere among it. He points overhead to strategically placed bits of baling wire, each with a specific purpose for suspending hoses, signs, or other critical pieces. He and Delbert both remember the approximate length and shape of the tubing, and Delbert goes off to a nearby shed in search of it.

"It's great to have volunteers move all this stuff out here for us," Milt says. "They did a lot of the heavy work, and we just need to finish the job and make sure all the pieces are here."

Jean is waiting for the arrival of some shelves so she can start cleaning them, but she knows that the man delivering them needs to finish his day's farm work before he makes another trip to town. She explains the annual routine of a committee chair. "Being the chairman of a committee doesn't mean you have to do all of the work," she says. "But you're the one responsible for organizing the schedule for others to work. I start calling around several weeks ahead of time and try to get people lined up to work specific times." Getting the hamburger stand organized means setting it up, organizing the cooking, serving and the dismantling of it all when the Burgoo is over. "The hamburger sales are unpredictable, except when they run out of soup early in the evening," Jean says. "Then we know that we'll be really busy."

Delbert returns with the right piece of tubing, and he and Milt finish making all the utility connections for the equipment in the stand.

Delbert Mueller turns on the water

Water's on -- Delbert Mueller turns on the water supply to the hamburger stand.

Men arranging planks
Preparing for a crowd -- Left to right: Mike Schnitker, Dean McMillen, and Ron Schone staighten the boards which will serve as seating for audience to the Burgoo's scheduled entertainment.

A few yards away, several men have pulled up with a truckload of sawhorses and lumber, and they start unloading everything and arranging the rows of seating for tomorrow's crowd. Over in the bingo tent, Joe Stinson, Bingo Chairman, is arranging the tables. In another part of the park, vendors are setting up their tents for arts and crafts sales, and the food concession trailers are setting up along the side streets. Main Street is still open to traffic, but in a few more hours it will be transformed into the site for the carnival rides. As the afternoon sun starts to fade, the park takes on the familiar look of the Burgoo grounds. 

I wander back to the group cleaning vegetables, and, lucky for me, they are just about to finish the job. It's nearly 7:00 p.m. by the time they have emptied all the washtubs and rinsed away the last scap of celery. Mom gathers up her knives, and we follow a few of the others over to AJ's Tap for a couple of Troy Alexander's delicious catfish dinners, a regular Thursday night special at the restaurant and tavern.


Fried catfish

Joe Stinson moves a table

Joe Stinson arranges the tables for the bingo tent.

Continued ...


  © 2023 Molly Daniel  

This page last modified: 08/25/2023