Community pays tribute to traditions with scaled back Chalkfest, Meatfest

Published: Jul. 11, 2020 at 5:58 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - This weekend marks what would have been one of the busiest weekends in the Wausau area.

The pandemic took away the hustle and bustle usually present on the 400 Block. But some people still found a way to honor their yearly traditions.

Busy hands furiously scraping the ground with chalk, the smell of barbecue wafting throughout town: just a few things this weekend should bring.

“There’s usually live music playing, cheese curd trucks, and lots of people walking around. So it’s really quiet this year which is strange,” said Meghan Schafer, who’s been participating in Chalkfest since she was about 7 years old.

Her family’s Chalkfest team has been at it for almost two decades, even once chalking through a tornado.

"It doesn't feel like summer without Chalkfest," she said.

Each year they draw a different superhero comic.

"We actually won last year, so we were supposed to be featured this year," Schafer said.

Saturday, they spent most of the day chalking on the 400 block. Schafer says it gives them a sense of normalcy to honor their tradition. This year, they’re honoring their personal heroes.

“In the winter, we’ll sit there and talk about what we’re going to do for Chalkfest. This is actually a photo of two local officers from the Wausau Police Department, and we turned it into a comic book cover, put our own little twist on things,” she said.

Across town, barbecue sizzled at Dale's Weston Lanes.

“I wanted to give everybody that lives here, that’s given so much to me, and my family, a taste of summer,” said Kim Lemke, president of Kim’s BS Sauce and owner of KimBob’s Café.

It wasn't a typical Meatfest, where Kim's BS Sauce is a staple. But it still filled people up.

"I promised everybody the show would go on, I promised it to my family, I promised it to everybody else, and I'm just so happy to be here. And the people that want to be here and are comfortable to be here, socially distancing, can enjoy great barbecue and do it outside with the beautiful weather," he said.

It’s a tradition that gets Lemke’s whole family together.

“This is one time in the year, besides like the holidays, that we get to be together as a whole family and spend time in close quarters together, and really just spend good quality time together,” said his stepdaughter Cheyenne Laatsch, who says she looks forward to coming to town and seeing her sisters for Meatfest every year.

While the traditions had to look different this year, there’s hope among everyone that next year, the 400 block will be full of people.

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