Home of the Hamburger

Susan Manzke
Seymour's claim to fame as Home of the Hamburger is emblazoned on this sign on Highway 54 just outside of Seymour.

When I travel or meet new people they often ask, “Where do you live?” Of course, I tell them that our home is Sunnybook Farm, Seymour, Wis.. The response to my statement is usually a blank stare. Then I add, “Seymour is the Home of the Hamburger,” and then I really get quizzical looks.

Today I’m going to write about living in the Home of the Hamburger.

Many local people are currently preparing for the 30th annual Burger Fest which is August 11, 2018. Everything kicks off Friday evening, August 10, with a Balloon Rally at Rock Ledge School—during the weekend, balloon ascensions take place at 6 in the evening Friday and Saturday and 6 in the morning Saturday and Sunday. Friday and Saturday also have balloon Glows at dusk, about 8 p.m.—all this is weather permitting as balloons don’t do well in windy or bad weather.

Susan and her grandchildren enjoy a visit from a hot air balloon in 2011 that landed on a grassy lane on Sunnybook Farm.

The big day on Saturday starts at 8 am for a Bun Run. At 11 there’s the World’s largest Hamburger Parade. Later is the Giant Ketchup Slide event at 4:30 that afternoon—that’s something you’ve got to see, a very long plastic slide (like a giant Slip N Slide™) is stretched for hundreds of feet, but instead of water, participants slide on ketchup. Of course, food,  hamburgers and more, are served all day.

You may ask, “How did Seymour become Home of the Hamburger?”

 At the first Burger Fest in 1989, a 5,520-pound hamburger was made, setting a world record—and I ate some of that great big burger. But that wasn’t the real beginning. That started years ago with the creation of the first hamburger ever in 1885 at the Seymour Fair. The inventor was 15-year-old Charlie Nagreen. Charlie had brought meatballs to sell to fairgoers. When people walked by him to see exhibits, this young man had to act. He smashed the meat so it would fit on bread. That way his customers could see the fair while munching on the first ever portable hamburgers.

Statue of Charlie "Hamburger Charlie" Nagreen stands on Depot Street in downtown Seymour, Wis. Nagreen is credited with inventing the first hamburger.

Charlie was a teenage entrepreneur! He soon became known as Hamburger Charlie. And now every year Seymour, Wis., honors him and his yummy meaty invention, the hamburger.

Our children and grandchildren have come home many times during these 30 years just to take part in Burger Fest. Our grandchildren love the parade especially when the firetrucks sirens blast. They think it’s so funny when Grandma covers her ears.

I’m especially fond of the hot-air balloons. Watching their bright colors rise into the sky is special but even better is when the wind brings them to our farm.

It’s been a couple years since they landed here, but Bob and I remember—and we have photos, too.

Since we are northwest of Seymour and the launch site, the wind doesn’t always blow them our direction. One year, (2014) I was outside taking care of evening chores when I heard a funny whooshing sound. I looked around to see what it was and didn’t see anything. It wasn’t until the second whoosh happened that I looked up and saw a balloon right overhead.

I yelled for Bob to look up and ran for my camera.

The combine was still in the field when this balloon found Sunnybook Farm kin 2014.

That time the balloon pilot maneuvered and landed in our recently harvested wheat field. He didn’t let the balloon settle onto the wheat stubble. Instead, he kept the balloon inflated, but low to the ground, and using a long rope, the ground crew walk/pulled the balloon over to the grassy farm lane. There they laid it down on the soft grass.

In 2011, they landed in our lane, missing our growing soybeans—Bob and I figure that when balloons land here it is good luck and great fun.

I hope you get to experience Burger Fest one day. People from all over Wisconsin come, and we also get visitors from across America. Maybe you’ll be one of Seymour’s visitors soon. I hope so.

*Don’t forget my summer Christmas card contest. Send a card and a loose stamp by August 29 and you’ll be entered in my book giveaway.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;