Members of the New Berlin Eisenhower
dance team dish up some roasted corn Saturday at the New
Berlin Lions Club corn roasting site at the Wisconsin State
Fair. In the back are Bree Surges and Cindy Duffin, and in
front are Taylor Wilson and Laura Jacobsen.
WEST ALLIS -
New Berlin Lions Club member Lloyd Bornemann and his group ought to
know more than a little about whatís most important for many
Wisconsin State Fair visitors - namely, food, and lot of it.
The club marked its 50th year of specifically serving up a state
fair food staple, corn. And the New Berlin Lions Club venue at the
fair is no small operation - Bornemann says the club will likely
sell a little more than 100,000 ears of corn by the time the 11-day
fair is completed, in addition to using 1.5 tons of butter and
grossing $250,000 in sales. The club owns five units that can cook
up to 800 ears an hour, so thatís up to 4,000 ears of corn per
hour, if needed.
"People come here for the corn," said Bornemann, the
clubís publicity chairman. "Oh, they come to the fair for
other things, too, obviously. But when it comes to food, itís the
corn and the cream puffs."
At 50 years, the club has sold to thousands of fair-goers, many
of which say they came back to buy and eat an ear of corn year after
year. Carol and Norb Stadler, Milwaukee, have returned to the Lions
Club corn stand for 30 years.
"Basically, itís one of your stops, one of your haunts, if
you will, at the fair," said Norb. "My next stop will be
to have a Sheboygan brat. Itís a tradition."
Norb points out they donít buy corn at any other of the summer
festivals, opting only to taste the corn at the Lions Club state
"I love the corn," says Carol.
Barbara Kershner, Menomonee Falls, said her family doesnít come
to the state fair every year, but when they do, they always make
sure to munch on some of the Lions Club corn.
"It always seems to taste better here than when you make it
at home," said Kershner, with a smile. "Oh, and I like the
butter - when they dunk it into that big vat of butter, thatís
Kershner said she believes food becomes a tradition at a fair
because "this is something that you only get once a year, so
that makes it special."
And it appears for Kershner, the food tradition of corn will
continue in her family, as her sons, Wilson, 2, and Calvin, 5,
clamored for more corn.
In addition to the tradition and sweetness of the corn, Norb
Stadler says thereís another reason why he buys it year after
"Itís good corn, but what makes this better is that itís
going to charity," he said. "They could charge $5 an ear
and I still would pay it. The majority of this doesnít go in
someone elseís pocket, it goes to charity."
Bornemann said many groups benefit each year from the corn roast.
After starting out in Butler in 1957, the club moved the operation
to the state fair in 1958 and it has since met with success. The
ties the effort has to the community and the groups it serves run
deep and across generations. And thatís just the surface of it -
about 1,200 volunteers, including Lions Club members, run the
operation each year and create memories of their own.
More than 50 Waukesha County groups are funded through the
effort, in addition to others from southeastern Wisconsin and
statewide organizations. Individuals from city, police, fire, high
school and other groups donate their time to the corn roast. Those
from civic groups are compensated for the number of hours their
members donate to the roast, Bornemann said. No one working the
roast receives money for doing so - itís all volunteer.
For instance, four members of the New Berlin Eisenhower dance
group - Laura Jacobson, Taylor Wilson, Bree Surges and Cindy Duffin
- volunteered their time Saturday. There will be 17 volunteers from
their group working 15 hours each, and their group will receive $6
per hour of time volunteered, they said.
Bornemann, whoís also been president of the New Berlin Lions
Club twice, says the corn and the fair are traditions for many, as
well as simply a meal.
"I have seen people buy eight ears of corn for themselves
and eat it," he said. "Usually if they buy one, they come
back for another - itís really good corn."