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.