By Greg Ylvisaker, reporter
Another Burger Fest has come and gone in Seymour, with the possible exception of those who may have bitten off more than they could chew at the burger eating contest, a good time was had by all once again.
Home of the Hamburger President Jim Campbell was thrilled with the growth this year’s event showed and expressed his thanks to the community for supporting the event and as he put it “keeping Seymour on the map.”
“Our annual Burger Fest and Balloon Rally were blessed with great weather and subsequently record-breaking crowds, Campbell said. “Home of the Hamburger is made up of all volunteer help and relies on the community and the surrounding communities for those volunteers. Monetary and in-kind donations from businesses and private donors are the other factors that continue to bring this event to Seymour. Thank you to our board members who work year round to bring this one-day event to fruition. Also thanks to the many volunteers who help to set up and clean up as well as those who work tirelessly the day of the event. A special thanks to the Sanger Powers crew. Many businesses also have gone above and beyond with their expertise, equipment and goods. These include American Foods Group, Festival Foods, Schuh Construction, Elexco, and Service Motors. Without them we would not be able to do what we do. Preliminary figures are showing that this year was a successful event and that we can continue our donations to the various charitable, educational, and civic organizations that we support annually.”
On Friday, Aug. 8, the hot air balloons began to arrive to start things off. Balloonists like John Bullock of Genoa City began to set up their balloons in the field near Rock Ledge Elementary School.
Ballooning is a family affair for the Bullocks. Bullock has been ballooning for about 10 years and his family acts as his balloon crew, helping him to set up and inflate the balloon then following on the ground in a car to retrieve him from where ever the wind takes him. His interest in piloting balloons passed to his teenage daughter Elizabeth, who received her junior license this year. Their balloon is called bubbles, and is colored in horizontal fields of light blue and white with a large orange fish emblazoned on the side.
Whether spectators were fortunate enough to look down at the view from one of the wicker balloon baskets or simply watch the balloon glow that evening, these balloons provide a unique beauty to the annual Burger Fest event.
The next day started with the annual Bun Run 5K. It began and ended at Lake Park, and people came from as far away as Omaha, Neb. Bob Richmond of Omaha was in town for a family reunion with his daughter Ashley Jackson of Chicago and her two sons Keegan and Logan. The four ran in the run together, with Logan and Keegan being pushed along in a stroller. They weren’t at the front of the pack though. Daniel LaLuzerne of Green Bay was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 16.09.88. Abigail Busse of Fond du Lac was first across for the women in 19.15.33.
Bill Moehring returned to his hometown to take part as well. He was a member of Seymour High School’s Class of 1964.
The parade was preceded by a line of Harley Davidsons, closely followed by a group of children sprinting down Main Street toward the Fest grounds and a giant cooler of ice cream treats during the Kids Bun Run.
The parade featured classic cars, burger-themed floats from around Seymour and the surrounding communities, high school bands from Seymour, Pulaski and Freedom as well as members of the University of Wisconsin marching band.
Burger Eating Contest
This year’s Burger Fest Burger Eating Contest was sponsored by Festival Foods and featured sliders.
The Burger Eating Contest featured a mixture of approximately 11 rookies and veterans of previous contests trying to put away as many sliders as they could.
2011 Seymour High School graduate Blaize Koon took the contest, downing a grand total of 21.5 sliders and winning a $100 gift card to Festival Foods. Shawn “2 Dolla” Nichols of Green Bay took second place and a $50 gift card with 18.5 while Ben Tenpas of Nekoosa and Joe Brittnacher of Green Leaf tied for third place at 13.5 each, each receiving $25 gift cards to Festival Foods.
Nichols said placing second last year made him want to win this year just that much more so he began training.
“Between last year and today I’ve competed in around 80 competitions and challenges around the country,” said Nichols. “I still got second again though.”
Nichols said he traveled all over the country to train including Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Detroit and Chicago. He attributed his second place finish to “flavor fatigue,” saying the buns on the sliders were pretty thick and he had difficulty with starches.
Colin Worm and Alyssa Skiba had the two farthest slides on the DQ Original Ketchup Slide during Burger Fest on Saturday, Aug. 9.
DQ Original Ketchup Slide
Worm eclipsed his slide from last year with a 234 foot 8 inch slide in the finals. Skiba, also last year’s women’s winner also beat last year’s effort with a slide of 158 foot 4 inch slide.
The men’s second place went to Tim Schmidt with a slide of 210 feet while Ben Braun finished in third place with 177 feet 4 inches.
Second place for the women went to Katie Buman, who slid 135 feet 5 inches while Danielle Soika took third with 88 feet 8 inches.