Coronavirus cancels 122-year tradition

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To the Editor:

After 122 years, the St. John United Church of Christ-Bem picnic is canceled due to the COVID-19. We regret that this must happen. We are looking forward to seeing you August 29.
The first picnic was held in 1898. It was held during the day for church members. We have had three picnic stands. The first being across the road west of the church.
In the early 1920’s the second stand was build across the road NW of the church. The council thought it was to dangerous for the children to cross the road, so they moved the stand. There were additions to the stand as the attendance grew. I’m not sure when it became a community picnic.
In 1971 the need for a bigger stand with electric was build at the present site.
The menu has changed.
The first picnic served cheese and summer sausage sandwiches, pink lemonade, and stalks of bananas were served by the council and wives. In the 1920’s second flavors of homemade ice cream were cranked by hand. The men got tired and jacked a car up and hooked a crank to the rear wheel axle to freeze the ice cream.
Now we have eight freezers hooked to an electric motor that freezes the ice cream.
Hot dogs, roast beef, coffee, candy cigars and cigarettes were added to the menu sometime in the late 20’s or 30’s.
In 1948 the famous juicy burgers (sloppy joes) arrived at the picnic. Since then fish, French fries, homemade pies, bottled water, tea and four flavors of ice cream are always served.
We hope to see you in the fall to enjoy the quilt auction, country store, and visiting with family and friends.

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