Visitors from near and far visit Henderson Sauerkraut Days, a tradition started in the 1930s

Visitors from near and far visit Henderson Sauerkraut Days, a tradition started in the 1930s

HENDERSON, Minn. (KEYC) - For a small town like Henderson, which has a population of less than 1,000 people as of 2010, the Henderson Sauerkraut Days festival is a big deal.

“Well, it’s a big tradition, being that it started in the thirties during the Depression years as a means to get people to town," said Kraut Krew member Denny Graham.

Nearly 90 years later, people like Katherine and Rob Lynch are visiting from Buffalo, New York.

“Well, we were on a boat in Portland, Maine last summer, and we saw a gentleman wearing one of these shirts," said Rob Lynch.

Lynch said the design caught his eye, and he tapped the man on the shoulder to ask about the festival.

“He said, ‘You got to come check it out.’ We always take a summer trip, so here we are," he said.

This is the couple’s first time visiting Minnesota.

Lynch said he and his wife were excited to see the World Champion Sauerkraut Eating Contest, a staple of the festival.

According to Graham, every year, there’s a different slogan for the festival.

This year, because of flooding that closed down portions of the city’s roads for around 60 days, the slogan was ‘sandbags and sauerkraut.’

Contestants like Brian Schneewind had to say it after eating two pounds of sauerkraut.

Schneewind’s record is 60 seconds.

“I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. I guess, you know that everybody else is trying to do the same thing, you know, just as fast, so," he said.

Lynch said sauerkraut is something he loved to eat growing up.

“My babcia, my Polish grandma, used to feed us kraut all the time when we were kids, so it’s near and dear to my heart," he said.

Graham said people should visit next year because there’s always something different.

“Once you’ve seen the World Champion Sauerkraut Eating Contest, which is coming up here in a little bit, you’ll never want to miss it again. It’s so much fun," he said.

Schneewind took home the title this year after eating two pounds of sauerkraut in 65 seconds.

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