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The Creamery Picnic

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Joined: 17 Mar 2009
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Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:06 pm    Post subject: The Creamery Picnic Reply with quote

(Originally posted January 8, 2009)

One of the big summer events in the 1940s and early 50s was the annual Concordia Creamery Picnic. Because it was held in the evening and Dad was busy running the event, he unfortunately didn’t take any movies of it. But I’m sure that many of you remember the affair.

My dad had the idea that it would be a nice gesture to hold a picnic for all of the creamery patrons. It was a huge food fest held at Southside Park. I can still remember the preparations for the first picnic. It was decided to have barbequed chicken as the main course. So we bought crates of live chickens from Secco Brockman’s Concordia Produce and brought them to the creamery. There they were butchered and scalded with the steam hoses used for cleaning the creamery equipment. The carcasses were then brought out in the road between the butter and cheese plants where the male employees all sat and plucked feathers. The butter-wrapping ladies then had the pleasure of cleaning the chickens.

In addition there was plenty of other food, like corn-on-the-cob and baked beans. But the hit of the picnic was the fresh squeezed lemonade served from oak barrels. Tri-Foods would get shipments of oak barrels from the bourbon distilleries in Kentucky to package the condensed whey they produced. The Federal revenuers had a requirement that the distilleries could drain exactly 55 gallons out of the storage barrels. So any excess had to be left in the barrels. It was a big event when a railroad car of barrels arrived. Workers would rush down to the tracks and tip the barrels over to drain out whatever was left in them. (That was 150 proof “white lightning”.) The charred wood staves of these barrels would still be saturated, so it gave quite a kick to the lemonade that was put in them.

Needless to say, the preparation required for the initial picnic was too much. So catered food was served after that first year. Attendance grew every year until parking around town became a bigger problem than Street Fair. People from all over the area showed up, many who were not creamery patrons but couldn’t resist the lure of free food. The picnic continued some years after my father retired from the creamery, but it finally got out of hand and was eventually cancelled.
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