Popping good time once again on Broadway

Popular popcorn wagon returns for 110th year

Jen Brummer and Kristine Runck wait on popcorn wagon regular Lorie King. King is a huge fan of the popcorn wagon. She said it has the best tasting popcorn.

NEW ULM — The Brown County Historical Society (BCHS) popcorn wagon was on Broadway Saturday for the first time in 2024.

This year marks the popcorn wagon’s 110th birthday. The wagon was purchased new in 1914 by Meyers Johnson. Since 2002, the popcorn wagon has been owned by BCHS and operated by volunteers.

This Saturday volunteers Yvonne Weber, Jen Brunner and Kristine Runck worked in the wagon from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Weber said popcorn sales were great Saturday morning. There was a rush of people hungry for popcorn, but also to relive memories. Weber said there were many regulars who had strong feelings about the popcorn wagon. There is a long tradition of parents and grandparents bringing the next generation to see the wagon.

Many of the visitors to the popcorn wagon were New Ulm locals, like Steve Sveine and his boys 3-year-old Finn and 2-year-old Cal. Sveine pulled his boys in a little red wagon to visit the popcorn wagon. Sveine said this was the first time the boys were both old enough to visit the popcorn wagon. The Sveine family expects to be regularly visitors through the summer.

Pat Woratschka, dressed as mascot “Poppy” delivers a bag of popcorn to a customer downtown. Woratschka has played Poppy for the last several years. This year he added the new sunglasses.

Popcorn wagon regular Lorie King made a point to visit the wagon on opening day.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s the best tasting popcorn”

King is originally from Springfield, but has a lot of memories of visiting the wagon whenever she was in New Ulm.

There were also some out of town guests. The Klaseus and Kolstad family of St. Peter were among the first customers to the popcorn wagon this year. Molly Klaseus said she had read about the popcorn wagon in Julie Jo Larson’s book “100 Things To Do in Minnesota Before You Die” and thought to visit during a day trip to New Ulm.

Pat Woratschka also returned as “Poppy” the popcorn wagon mascot. This year, Woratschka was able to expand on the Poppy costume, adding glasses and special shoes. Woratschka made a few special popcorn deliveries to people walking downtown who could get to the wagon.

The Klaseus/Kolstad family sit down to a bag of popcorn near the BCHS Popcorn Wagon. Molly Klaseus said she had read about the popcorn wagon in Julie Jo Larson’s book “100 Things To Do in Minnesota Before You Die” and thought to visit during a day trip to New Ulm. L to R: Malia Kolstad, Clara Klaseus, Molly Klaseus and Haidyn Kolstad.

Woratschka said playing Poppy is a pretty good gig. He loves waving at the people driving by on Broadway.

The popcorn wagon will be open on 10 dates this year. The next appearance will be Monday, June 3.

Since this year marks the 110th birthday, the BCHS plans to hold a special birthday celebration for the wagon including photographs of the wagon through the ages. The plan is to display photos during a special birthday celebration in September.

Anyone with photos of the wagon are encouraged to email copies to education@browncountyhistorymn.org.

Finn Sveine, 3 and Cal Sveine, 2 enjoy a visit the Popcorn Wagon.


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