Friday, April 24, 2009

Teeming, I tells ya!

Previously, your humble correspondent wrote about attending Waterloo's 49th Annual Wiener and Kraut Day festivities in 2008. In that post, I mentioned that the streets used to be TEEMING with people, back in the day. One might go so far as to say that there were more people than you could shake a stick at! I now have photographic evidence of some of that teeming. The below (very poorly scanned) images are from the 28-Sept-1978 issue of the Waterloo Courier.

In this first scan, you see a couple of nice ladies pouring drinks on the left. On the right is a view of the HOARDS of people lined up to watch a marching band down at the "four corners." (I can't quite make out what's playing at The Mode theatre, but gasoline is selling for about 59 cents/gallon.) Look! Look at them teem!

Here's a scan of a nice nun -- Is that Sister Rose? -- and a young person shopping at a bears and puppets table. On the right is Dean with his Giant Wiener. You can't see it very well, because this is a really inferior quality scan, but just behind the nun's head, there are dozens of other tables and booths set up, all of them with people buzzing around, shopping for deals.

This final scan shows some of the nice folks selling wiener and kraut sandwiches. On the right is a lady -- not sure what she's up to -- and below that is a man driving a very very small semi-truck.

Okay, so this last scan doesn't really show any teeming crowd activity, but that's okay, because the first two are chock full of people! I hope that Waterloo can bring back these kinds of crowds of people for their big Sesquicentennial Celebration this fall.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dig those wieners and kraut!

Speaking of Wiener and Kraut Day...

Your sporadically posting humble correspondent attended the 49th Annual Wiener & Kraut Day last September 13, 2008, and was greatly disappointed at the turnout of both people and vendors.

Now I realize that it was a rainy kind of day, and that may have kept some of the wimpier people from venturing out, but still... there were maybe fifty people total hovering about the Wiener and Beer Tents, with random groups of two to three people walking the streets. These streets should have been TEEMING with people, milling about the shops, snapping up bargains and enjoying a fresh hot dog or two.

At least... that's how it USED to be, back in the day. You know, back when W/K Day used to fall on the FOURTH Saturday of the month where it rightfully belongs (Even if it might get a little hot every tenth year!) instead of on the 2nd Saturday of the month. Back in the day, all of the shops along Monroe and Madison streets had fantastic sales, and there were fun contests like "Guess the Weight of Dean's Big Wiener," and a mind-boggling mix of goodies in the drug store grab bags. Bargains galore at The Toggery! Back in the day, you had to fight your way through the crowds just to get in line for a hot dog. Back in the day, you could spend hours just slowly traversing your way from Monroe Street to Madison Street, north and south, east and west, and back around again, just checking out all of the interesting vendor tables that lined every square inch of the downtown area.

Back in the day, the various extra-curricular groups at the high school all had their own spot on the street. The Spanish Club selling tacos! The Track Team selling candy! The Senior Class selling t-shirts! Back in the day, the entire town turned out to celebrate! But apparently, that is no longer the case, as the total number of vendors lining the streets could be counted on one hand. The most popular appeared to be this white wagon on the corner, selling things like bubble-gum flavored slushies and fried cheesecake on a stick:

Perhaps this was just a fluke of a year. I didn't attend too many of the W/K Days once they moved it earlier in the month, so I don't know if they were all as much of a flop, or if it was a more gradual decline in attendance. But honestly? This was the most pathetic of all Wiener and Kraut Days that I have ever set eyes upon. Legend says that back in the day, one brave new shop-keep in town had the audacity to suggest that Waterloo advertise their Wiener and Kraut Day activities in towns all over the state, in order to attract a profitably large crowd. This idea was shot right out of the air because, as Legend says, they didn't want the doings to get too big. Too. Big. Well... I think they finally got their wish. Don't you?

I seriously hope that the turnout on W/K Day is not indicative of what to expect at this year's big Sesquicentennial Celebration on September 12-13, 2009. That would be really embarrassing... But hey -- that's several months away from now. Maybe Waterloo will decide to, oh, I don't know... ADVERTISE their celebration -- early and often! -- so that people know about it and can plan their schedules accordingly.

Also, Waterloo? You might want to give your shops a washing and a fresh coat of paint or something. The new roadwork looks all purty and everything, but the storefronts are still pretty shabby looking. I mean, geez... there's still an outline of the old Courier Building right out in the open.