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EAU CLAIRE

A 15-minute rain delay didn't put a damper the popular Mustard Days event as record crowds began arriving early for free food, prizes and fun on the grounds of Silver Spring Foods, 2424 Alpine Road in Eau Claire, on Aug. 4.

Last year's event brought in 2,500 visitors, but with 18 booths and vendors, local mascots, country blues band "The St. Paul Mud Steppers" and the UW-Madison Marching Band 5th Quarter, to name a few, numbers for 2016 were expected to be close to 3,500.

The" GIVE IT ZING " slogan could be seen on shirts worn by the many volunteer employees working the booths and serving deep-fried cheese curds, nonalcoholic bloody Marys, frozen custard and brats. Visitors could sample squeezable sauerkraut made with horseradish at the Sconnie Foods booth manned by company president Tracy Lundberg and Bucky's Horseradish Pickles from Bucky's Bar in Elrosa, MN.

Everyone could bring along a bottle of non-Silver Spring mustard to trade in for a free bottle of Silver Spring mustard. The company's mustards and sauces could also be purchased that day for $1.

A drone flying over the grounds sent photos to a big screen TV for everyone to watch festivities from the air. Local radio stations and one local TV station were on hand, and dozens of food and parking sponsors helped make the event a success. Visitors were asked to bring food donations to support local Feed My People food bank.

Family-owned and operated since 1929, Hunsinger Farms/Silver Spring Foods in Eau Claire is the largest producer of horseradish in the U.S., harvesting 6 million pounds per year on 6,000 acres in Wisconsin and 3,000 acres in Minnesota using a modified potato digger to harvest. The company employs 215 workers and are in the process of hiring 50 more as new products are introduced.

The newest product, according to president Robert Roemer, is a horseradish steak sauce. "We are very proud of the fact that we are a family owned and operated company," Roemer said, "and the national mustard day celebration is our way of giving back to the community."

Specialty mustards are the company's niche, which also includes sauces and, of course, horseradish. Their most popular mustard is Beer and Brat.

To learn more about this 87-year-old company and their products, go to silverspringfoods.com, and check them out on Facebook.

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