IN MEMORY OF RANDY WALSH … This group of friends and loved ones wore specially made tee shirts to the Williams County Pork Producers dinner held on November 15, 2022, to share their sorrow at the loss of Randy Walsh in May of 2022. His fiancée, Sandy Rummel, second in from right in the front row, said that it has been hard since Randy passed away at the age of 64, from colon cancer, but having these people who loved him too, remember him with her was very meaningful and comforting. Walsh was the president of the Williams County Pork Producers for around six years and was always very involved. President Paul Haines said during the dinner that Walsh is greatly missed. (PHOTO BY REBECCA MILLER, STAFF)
By: Rebecca Miller
The Veteran’s Building in Montpelier was filled with Williams County Pork Producers and their families as well as Williams County Pork Booth volunteers and their families on the evening of November 15, 2022.
Each year the pork producers hold a dinner to thank all their volunteers and enjoy some good food and entertainment together.
This year’s entertainment was phenomenally inspirational with Emcee Bill Priest, sharing touching memories of his experiences at the Williams County Fair over the years, and the Edgerton Community Choir performing a patriotic cantata that stirred the hearts and brought many to tears.
Dinner was of course based on a buffet of deliciously roasted slices of pork loin, served with mashed potatoes, vegetables and salad.
The dessert table held a large variety, cheering the tastebuds of everyone present. Visiting with friends and family was taking place all over the room as all enjoyed the dinner.
When the entertainment portion of the evening began, Priest, who has been announcing at the Williams County Fair for fifty years, shared that when he thinks of the Williams County Pork Producers, he automatically thinks of the Williams County Fair, of which the pork producers have been a large part for many years.
He went on to share how as a child he loved the fair, especially getting a bag of peanuts and being able to make a mess with the shells.
He shared how he was there in 1974 when the grandstand burned down and how awful that felt.
With the help of everyone including the Pork Producers, the fair foundation raised $400,000 for the new grandstand, where over the years since then people have had the fun of hearing Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and Bill’s favorite – Boxcar Willie.
The pork producers sold their first four sausage sandwiches at the fair in 1978, to fair foundation board members, and wondered if anyone else would come and buy one.
Everyone laughed at that thought, because since then the pork producers booth has grown and grown.
This year, for the 2022 Williams County Fair, there were 180 volunteers needed, using 3500 pounds of pork, making 11,000 sandwiches.
The direct benefit of that is that the pork producers of 2022 were able to give $850 to Williams County 4-H for camp scholarships, $2000 to college scholarships to four 2021 graduates, $1000 to Williams County Ag Society for the ceiling fund for the Junior Fair Building on the fairgrounds, $1000 to United Way of Williams County, $2250 to the Pig Scramble projects at the 2022 fair, $200 for the Williams County Fair King and Queen scholarships and $2575 to Jr. Fair Sale Committee for 4-H projects at this year’s fair. “That only works when you all help to make it happen,” he said.
President of pork producers, Paul Haines thanked Priest for coming to emcee. He thanked all the volunteers and said he wondered if in 1978 they could have envisioned that it would still be going strong in 2022.
He took a moment to share their sadness over the loss of Randy Walsh who passed away in May from cancer, as he was the president of the pork producers for many years, “a vital part of this organization”, and was a great friend.
He asked Garold Keppeler, VP, to come up to make presentations to Pam Goll and Bob and Stacy Walkup.
Keppeler gave a gift of $2000 to Goll for the Williams County Ag Society and $2000 to Mr. Walkup for the Veterans for their building fund.
Before walking back to her seat, Pam Goll announced that the 2023 fair will be eight days long!
Priest introduced the choir by saying, “One of the most poignant moments I ever had while announcing at the Williams County Fair was for Youth Night the week of 9/11.”
“All the planes had been taken out of the sky and we were all crushed by what was going on… with a lot of sadness.”
PRESENTATIONS MADE …Pam Goll, representing the Williams County Ag Society, was given a donation of $2000 presented by Williams County Pork Producers (WCPP) Vice President Garold Keppeler. Keppeler also presented $2000 to Bob and Stacy Walkup, standing next to WCPP President Paul Haines, for the Veterans building fund.
“That night as we got ready to start the program and as we turned to face that large flag for the National Anthem, a great big jet flew over it! ”
“And we knew it was going to be ok! Because this is America, we are Americans and we do get together when things like that happen.”
“We have a wonderful country and we have a wonderful soul and regardless of what people do to us we do help each other out and we do make it a better place for everyone.”
The presentation by the Edgerton Community Choir is based on what Ray Riehle did after 9/11, by forming this chorus.
His son Kermit Riehle directed the chorus at the November 15, 2022 pork producers dinner. They performed a musical cantata called God Bless the USA.
This group of singers, all adults except for eight-year-old Cataleya Perez, sang their hearts out, making everyone want to stand up over and over throughout the concert.
Finally at the end, they could not resist that urge and everyone stood up for the end of the last song.
Lines throughout each of the pieces that stood out included “millions of reasons why this country is so great”, about veterans –“While there’s still time, let them know. Tell them thank you for what they did.”, and “When we pledge allegiance, there’s no doubt where we stand. In God we still trust here in America!”
Marcy Rosendaul shared readings throughout the cantata, tying it together with inspirational statements.
One song had a number of solos with the microphones being passed around and each performer singing their part with passion.
All in all, it was a gloriously inspiring performance, wrapping up a lovely evening.
Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org