July 30, 2007

Winsted's Bratbusters set for Aug. 10

By Jenni Sebora

By boat, ambulance, police car, or fire truck, the Bratbusters have arrived to entertain folks at the annual Brat Busters celebration in Winsted since the early 1980s.

Although the celebration has changed its “look” over the years, now a part of the Winsted summer festival with different features added along the way, it continues to be a source of summer fun entertainment.

Bratwursts, with or without sauerkraut, and a hearty helping of enthusiasm has been, and continues to be, the signature event of the celebration.

The Winsted Summer Festival usually occurs the first weekend of August, and this year is set for Friday through Sunday, Aug. 10-12.

It is Bratbusters that kicks off the festival each year on Friday at Mill Reserve Park. Bratbusters is sponsored by the Winsted Area Chamber of Commerce – what used to be the Civic and Commerce.

The original Bratbusters was actually started by Floyd Sneer, Tom Ollig, and Gary Lenz while “sitting around” after a Winsted Civic and Commerce meeting over 20 years ago, brainstorming over summer community celebration ideas.

“We wanted to do something different,” Sneer said. The goal was also to help Crazy Days in town.

Although Crazy Days was a popular event in Winsted at one time, the concept lost some of its flavor, Sneer noted, and they wanted to try something different.

Thus, Bratbusters was created, and different it was.

The first year, a limousine was hired for $150 to transport the Bratbusters one block to make a grand entrance to the first-ever Bratbusters celebration

With Ghost Busters music blaring and a red carpet rolled out – literally, the Bratbusters “rolled” out of the limo dressed in chef attire with tongs in hand to make the grand entrance.

Since that first celebration, other members of the Winsted business community have joined the ranks as Bratbusters over the years. The event just grew, Sneer noted.

The Bratbusters have arrived in varying costumes by different modes of transportation throughout the celebration’s longevity as well.

“The crazier the better,” Sneer said with a chuckle. “The crazier things we did, the more people would come to see the dumb things we were doing.”

One year handcuffed in a police car; another year transported by ambulance; yet another year by boat; and one year almost by plane, the Bratbusters have come providing entertainment for all in attendance.

In the second year of the celebration, Dave Sherman, with para trooping experience, joined the forces as a Bratbuster and nearly talked the others into coming in by jumping from a plane, Sneer noted.

Bratbusters was successful and continues to be because of the support of the business community, the chamber of commerce and the City of Winsted itself, Sneer stressed.

“We have complete cooperation of the city council, the civic and commerce and the businesses,” Sneer said.

Other people have joined hands to help out with the celebration as well.

“Credit should also be given to Mae Stifter, who organized the Winsted ambassador candidates to serve floats, and Kendell Kubasch for organizing Mid-Minnesota Concert Band’s participation (in the event),” Sneer said – as well as others who have helped and continue to help out.

In fact, Sneer added, as an original Bratbuster, he actually did not fry too many bratwursts. There were others willing to fry the brats. He, along with the other bratbusters, spent their time goofing around and entertaining the people, Sneer noted with a chuckle.

This year’s Bratbusters celebration will once again include bratwursts and sauerkraut, ice cream floats, and entertainment by the Mid-Minnesota Concert Band.

Other fun activities will also be part of this year’s celebration on the Friday evening of the summer festival, Aug. 10.

For children, there will be mini train rides, a fun bounce, and a coin treasure hunt in sand hauled in by Kubasch Excavating.

Karaoke by Jay and a bonfire will round out the evening’s activities, all at Mill Reserve Park.

All of these great activities all in the name of fun, laughter and community camaraderie.

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