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Thousands of visitors joined in ‘Sauer Kraut Days’ for nearly a century

An estimated 1,500 folks jammed into Bouton for one of the earlier “Sauer Kraut Days” celebrations. The annual event began in 1915.
An estimated 1,500 folks jammed into Bouton for one of the earlier “Sauer Kraut Days” celebrations. The annual event began in 1915.

For more than 90 years, the residents of Bouton entertained thousands of visitors with the community’s annual “Sauerkraut Days” celebration.

Held each fall, the fete began in 1915 and was an annual event until just a few years ago when there just weren’t enough local volunteers to organize the event.

As its name would indicate, Sauerkraut was the featured food during each of the community celebrations.

Obtaining the featured food, however, was a concern as Bouton folks prepared for the second “Sauerkraut Days” in 1916.

The celebration was scheduled for Sept. 15-16 that year, but it had been announced that a railroad strike would go into effect on Sept. 4 that year — during the time that “several car loads of Sauer Kraut and Weinies” were enroute to Bouton, and it looked like a tie up of a big share of the joy of Sauer Kraut Days at Bouton,” according to a story printed in the Bouton Press on Sept. 13.

The story said that “telegraph wires between Bouton and Washington were kept hot for several days.” But, a Mr. Wilson (President Woodrow Wilson) assured the Sauer Kraut Committee that in case of a strike he would take charge of the railroads and personally see that the Sauer Kraut special arrived in plenty of time for the festivities.

That part of the story is doubtful, but the celebration was held that year, as it was for nearly a century.

The Bouton Commercial Club organized the event, but lots of volunteers worked many hours to put on the annual celebration and the early committees included finance, sports and entertainment.

Baseball games, kids’ games, balloon flights, field sports and music were parts of many celebrations. A big highlight of the 1919 Sauer Kraut Days was an “aeroplane” from the Aircraft Company of Iowa.

The committee asked, “Are you going up in the Airship Sauer Kraut Days?” In also said, “If you are one of those who have been longing for an opportunity to experience the exhilarating delights of flying, the realization of your dream is here.”

Despite all the hoopla, however, the draw then, as it was for more than 90 years, was sauerkraut.

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