Thousands of people, blue skies, perfect temperatures, music, excitement in the air and over a ton of beef, literally – these were some of the ingredients that made the 48th annual Beef-A-Rama such a record-breaking event.
“There were so many people I couldn’t believe it,” Beth Wetzler, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce events and community coordinator, said. “Last year was my first Beef-A-Rama and I thought that there was a lot of people then, but that just did not prepare me in any way, shape or form for this year.”
Though the numbers aren’t finalized, Wetzler can say with confidence that there were “well over 5,500 beef sandwiches served between the Rotary Garden on Chicago Street and Torpy Park” – shattering any previous year’s record.
“Last year we did just short of 3,000 sandwiches and my goal was 4,000, so we definitely got to our goal,” Wetzler said. “It was really great to have sandwiches sold at two spots.”
And the Rotary Club also broke their record of about 300 sandwiches sold last year.
“Our goal at the Rotary was to sell 500 sandwiches for the day. And in the first hour and a half they sold 1,200 sandwiches,” Wetzler said.
New this year were the shuttles, and large numbers once again surrounded this aspect of Beef-A-Rama – more than 2,000 people took advantage of free transportation and the lines for a ride were long all day, Wetzler noted.
“I’m glad we were pressed really hard with the number of people that came because we saw what worked and what isn’t going to work,” Wetzler said. “There were definitely little things throughout that need improvement, but nothing that can’t be fixed.”
Between 120 roasts weighing in at 20 pounds apiece – a grand total of 2,400 pounds (1.2 tons) of beef – there was plenty of the celebrated meat to go around.
“We didn’t run out of beef until 5:20 p.m.,” Wetzler said. “We just need to figure out a way to get people through the lines faster.”
And everybody in town came together to make sure Beef-A-Rama ran smoothly.
“People were really coming out of the woodwork to volunteer and everyone was so excited to help out,” Wetzler said. “People have taken ownership of the event and that’s great.”
With Oneida Street closed to traffic, one obstacle the food and drink vendors faced was how to restock in a timely fashion. But once again, it all came down teamwork.
“Between the volunteers and the venders – Trig’s and Save More and Dean Distributing – keeping an eye on their stock, we were able to get more soda or beer or buns onto the island. [Beef-A-Rama] a really nice event that the whole town helps to produce,” Wetzler said. “You can’t do it without the whole town.”
The record-breaking number of people and the success of closing down Oneida Street for this year’s event has Minocqua looking forward to its milestone 50th annual Beef-A-Rama coming up.
“I just have a feeling that in two years when it’s our 50th and we want to bring a little bit more to the table that we’ll be prepared,” Wetzler said. “This helped us to see what we need to do.”
Sarah Hirsch may be reached at email@example.com