Published On: Thu, Oct 19th, 2017

Major turn out for Smorgasbord shows community pride

WAUSA —  The city of Wausa celebrated it’s 74th annual Smorgasbord last weekend.
This year, the event served 250 people, and celebrated the rich Swedish history that is represented in Wausa.
There were volunteers of all ages to help put on the event, but one man stood apart from the rest.
Gene Johnson, 90, still volunteers at the Smorgasbord. In fact, he said he has been at or helped with almost every Smorgasbord.

Gene Johnson greets people as they sign the guest book at the Smorgasbord.

“I have only missed one Smorgasbord since 1933,” said Johnson.
This year Johnson greeted guests as they walked downstairs to eat at the Community Auditorium. He made sure everyone signed the guest book, and talked to everyone as they passed by.
“I just enjoy it so  much, and it’s just so special,” said Johnson. “You get to work with people and get to know people. It’s good.”
There is a committee that puts together the event every year, and Mary Anderson was one of the co-chairs this year. She said volunteers from the community always play a huge part with the Smorgasbord.
“We get really good support from the community,” said Anderson. “We have some trouble with conflicts with school, that type of thing. We hope to continue having Smorgasbord but everyone keeps getting busier and busier. We hope it keeps on.”
One example of this is that the committee Anderson is on tried to get some kids from school to dance, but were only able to get four to have the time to come and practice so that dance was cut from this year’s festivities.
Many high school kids do still help out.
The high school volleyball team had a tournament on Saturday in Hartington, but some players still came down and volunteered after they came back to town. A lot of the football team volunteered, as well, carrying the guests’ trays to their table for them while wearing traditional swedish attire.
“I think it is a way for the community to connect with its roots,” said Ashby Nelson, a senior at Wausa. “It’s a way for us to come together as well.”
The meal features plenty of options, and Mary Anderson thinks that may be forgotten some times, and has led to some smaller crowd sizes.
“We used to serve maybe a thousand, but now it seems some would rather go to a fish fry or event like that,” said Anderson. “My point to them is that we have 45 different food options that they can choose from, and they can eat until they are full. So it might be a little more expensive but they are getting more than just one plate. They can eat until they’re full.”
It seemed many were taking up that offer and would go get second helpings as well.
Anderson hopes that the Smorgasbord will continue on. Next year would mark the 75th Smorgasbord event in Wausa.