Popcorn wagon too fragile for parade

To the editor:

I have been asked by the Board of the Brown County Historical Society to reply to Mr. Keith Schwager’s Letter to The Editor, dated July 12, 2017. His well-intentioned letter asked the question, “Why is the popcorn wagon not in the Bavarian Blast parade?”

As a previous board member and long-time museum volunteer, I was privy to this very question in 2008 when a full-scale restoration of the popcorn wagon was completed. Literally every piece of the 1914 Cretors Popcorn Wagon was disassembled and restored, rebuilt, and refinished — even down to each nut, bolt and screw. The full scope of how the popcorn wagon was constructed and the fragility and rarity of it was then more fully understood. With this new information, the Board decided that the popcorn wagon was more than a curiosity — it was to be considered as an historic artifact and, as such, was a part of the museum’s collection.

Many requests have been taken to have it appear at various events around town, such as the summer music in German Park, up at the Hermann Monument, at sports tournaments, and at special events. But because of its fragile nature, they have all been turned down.

On a few occasions during the year the wagon is pulled out in front of the museum to sell popcorn. This is to give it some life through modern use, to attract passersby to the museum, and to raise some funds for the museum. A special electric hauler is used to take it from storage to the front of the museum and even that short trip is done with great caution and care.

The very act of getting the wagon out of storage and up onto a trailer, enduring the bumps and twists of a parade route, and back off the trailer to storage — while seemingly simple — do carry risks of damage that are not worth taking. Imagine having the wagon fall off of a trailer, or roll back while being loaded, and we hope the readers can understand our decision to avoid this!

Mr. Schwager’s question is a legitimate one and his pride in New Ulm’s history is evident, but with all respect to his concern, the possibility of damage is too great to include the delicate wagon in parades or other off-site events.

Terry Sveine

New Ulm

For the BCHS’s

Board of Directors

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