Something You Should Know About...Rutabaga Festival 2019

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by Hope Lee Vicich

It’s that time again!   Yes, for the 87th time this town is hosting a gathering celebrating a humble root vegetable.  Of course, I am talking about the Rutabaga Festival!
Folks from far and wide will be arriving in Cumberland for the weekend.  What started in 1932, as an attempt to  ease tensions between the farm and town communites and “obtain a better spirit of friendliness between merchants and farmers” has blossomed into  four days of food, rides, music and fun.
The original ‘Baga Fest’s slate of entertainment included shows, vaudeville, speakers, races and other athletic events, a football game and ended with “a real old time free dance” at the Legion barracks.  They had a registration booth (I don’t imagine that would work well today), and gave awards for the Largest family, largest family from greatest distance, fattest man and fattest woman, as well as other door prizes.

The events being offered have changed with the years. Instead of the original “World’s Champion Rutabaga Eater” we now have  the Pepper Eating contest,  instead of vaudeville, we have the ETC, who is bringing Ole & Lena back to Cumberland in a production of Ole & Lena’s Cafe Chaos, with performances Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m.  Tickets are $12 and are available at Peter & Annie’s World Market or at the door the night of the performance.  (The theatre is air conditioned, by the way, and has new handicap rest room facilities!)

And though “Free rutabagas and wieners” are no longer served to the crowd on Saturday afternoons, there is no lack of great food from the various charity stands.  Pepper burgers, meatball sandwiches, baked potatoes, pies, cheese curds and fries, the list goes on and on!  Speaking of food,  remember the annual Corn Feed (4:30-6:30 p.m.) and Worship Service (at 6:30 p.m.) held at First Lutheran Church on Wednesday night. This year’s special music is Dolly Neby & Friends.  All the proceeds from the meal will go to our local Shop with A Cop program.

But we still have our “Shows!” Four nights of great music from the best bands available! This year’s music begins on Thursday night with returning local favorites   Paisan. DJ Skeeter on Sound and Johnny Wad are the line-up for Friday, Saturday’s headliners are City Vibe, The Chad Edwards Band, and 33 RPM, and on Sunday the Fest finishes off in style with ‘Baga favorites Funktion Junction and The Dweebs,  who will once again be this year’s closing act.  
Our “athletic events” have a new twist this year.  The annual Rutabaga Run is now a complete half marathon! The Fun Run (3.1 miles) and Walk (2 miles) are the same and all are still being run on on Saturday morning (registration materials are available at the Chamber of Commerce office, online,   or in The Laker summer newspaper).
We also have many attractions that the first festival lacked, including Stipes’ Midway. Rides, games and even more “Fair food” abound. This year will see two “Arm Band Days” on Friday and Saturday from 12-4 p.m.         

Saturday is always a big day at the Fest, and this year is no exception! First, the Cumberland Aero Club is hosting a pancake breakfast in the Beer Garden from 7-11:00 a.m. When you’re done, you can join the Aero Club and the Young Eagles for free airplane rides for kids ages 12-18 out at the Cumberland Airport from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. (weather permitting).Then shop up and down “Main Street” at  the 39th Annual Craft Fair.  Cruise the large variety of stalls offering hand crafted jewelry, art, gifts, food items and more. Later on Saturday morning there is the FFA Pedal Tractor Pull at Noon, and Club Cumberland will once again be hosting their “9” Pin singles - no tap - tournament at 11:00 am.   Contact Tommy at 715-822-8497 for details and to sign up.

Oh, and we can’t forget our royalty.  This year’s Queen, Princesses and Junior Princess were crowned on Sunday,  August 18th in the High School Gym. Look for your new Miss Cumberland, Janessa Wilt, and her court First Princess Autumn Donatell, Second Princess Maddie Hullander, and the Junior Royalty Luciana Bickle and  Lydia Huebner, around the festival.  Miss Cumberland and the Court will be at the Pepper Eating Contest on Saturday at 4:00, and make their first official appearance on the Cumberland float in the Grand Parade at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Speaking of Sunday, Pancakes are once again be served! This time at the Cumberland Airport, as part of their annual Fly-in, Drive-in and Walk-in Breakfast.
Cumberland is proud to again this year offer anyone who presents a military ID free admission into the beer garden/concert stage!  This is for Sunday only, one admission per ID. Thank you for your service!

We want everyone to have a safe and fun at time at Rutabaga Fest.  To that end,  the Barron County Sheriff’s Department and the Cumberland Police Department are once again sponsoring Safe Ride Thursday from 6 pm - Midnight; Friday & Saturday 6 pm - bar close; and Sunday 6 pm - Midnight. The cost is $10 per ride.  For more information, or to schedule a ride, stop in at Bourbon’s Bar or call 715-822-2300.

The Cumberland Chamber of Commerce has done its best to see that there is a full slate of entertainment and good times for all.  
So bring your family and friends and come on down to the 87th Rutabaga Festival. It is always a guaranteed good time!


Cumberland Advocate

375 2nd Ave, PO Box 637
Cumberland, WI 54829
Phone: (715) 822-4469
Hours:  8:30 AM–4:30 PM M-F