Published On: Wed, Apr 12th, 2017

The future of Wausa’s Smorgasbord to be discussed

WAUSA — The community has some big decisions to make.

In October, Wausa will be enjoying its 74th Swedish Smorgasbord, but changes may need to be made for this big community-wide event to continue.

The Methodist Church started the Smorgasbord tradition in 1943, and the community took over in 1962. For years attendance grew as community members and out-of-towners delighted in numerous Swedish foods.

Today, the Swedish Smorgasbord faces a dilemma. Prices for specialty foods have risen. Attendance has declined.  Profits are down. Other activities have reduced the number of people that work, provide food, and serve on the planning committee.

Local residents are asked to bring their ideas to a community meeting at the old library, April 25, at 7 p.m.

It takes more than 100 volunteers to organize and run the event.

The committee has relied on students to help set up and take down, as well as serve as waiters and waitresses.

Other people make ost kaka, rice pudding, potato salad, beet pickles, scalloped potatoes, deviled eggs, jello, fruit soup, Swedish brown beans, baked beans, limpa and rye bread, fancy bread, and cookies. Some provide homemade beet pickles, homegrown parsley, and farm-fresh eggs. Some cook all the potato bologna and the meatballs offsite.  Others prepare cheese trays offsite.

It also takes many workers in the salad room, hot and cold meat room, and coffee room.

Others arrange bread and cookies. Workers serve as main room and kitchen washers as well as tray washers. Others serve as main table hostesses, runners and water pourers, ticket sellers, dancers, greeters, table decorators, callers, home meal deliverers and guest book hosts. More are needed as waiters and waitresses, as coffee and water pourers. Others work at the refill table, resale table, sell tickets, wrap silverware, and serve on the planning committee.  So it takes the entire community to make it work.

What does the Smorgasbord mean to the Wausa Community?

Smorgasbord provides two scholarships to graduating seniors. The smorgasbord also reflects the community’s  proud Swedish heritage and preserves the connection to the past.

In 2016, people came from Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, Alaska and Hawaii to attend the event.

So many out-of-towners this last year said they really enjoyed Smorgasbord and hoped it would continue. 

In 2015, 79 percent of those who signed the guest book were from out of town and in 2016 it was 62 percent. The percentages do not include workers who also ate.

Total attendance in 2016, including workers, was 425 compared to 841 in 2000. Net income for 2000 was $2,750 compared to a loss of $88 in 2016.

It is gratifying to have so many people say ‘yes’ when they are called, but it is increasingly more difficult to find enough people that do say ‘yes.’

A significant need is to find more people willing to work on the planning committee. Most committee members have served many years.

Anyone that wants to see this continue is asked to bring ideas to a community meeting at the old library, April 25, at 7 p.m.

Check out the Wausa Gazette E Edition for the complete story. Just follow this link to get our E Edition.