Winnetoon in Northeast Nebraska, Knox County saw almost 1,000 residents increase from 47 to close to 1,000 on one sunny summer day.

The influx of people probably wasn’t a surprise to the locals. People travel all across the state each year to Winnetoon for the annual barbecue event. This year’s Winnetoon BBQ on Aug. 6 had nearly 1,000 people show up, leaving the organizers wondering: Where do all these people come from?

Winnetoon can be found between Creighton, Credigre and Creighton.

Verdigre’s population was 553 in 2020 and Creighton was 1,253. Winnetoon’s population was only around 47 the same year, according to U.S. Census Data.

There are many events and festivals held throughout the year in Winnetoon. Winnetoon is small but attracts large numbers to enjoy its barbecue.

“We questioned why we get that many people —we have no idea,”Roger Lemke is a member of the Winnetoon BBQ Committee.

According to Lemke, the Winnetoon BBQ started six years ago in an effort to help out the town’s restaurant — Elaine’s Tavern.

Marsha Neumann, a member of the Winnetoon BBQ committee, said Elaine’s Tavern has been in Winnetoon for years as a family business.

Years later, Winnetoon BBQ is able support rural Nebraska towns.

Neumann claims that Winnetoon BBQ helps financial support families each year.

“We help families that are in need — if they like,”Neumann declared.

The BBQ committee also donates gift baskets to the elderly who can’t leave their homes during Christmas, said Neumann.

BBQ takes you back to where it all started.

Lemke states that the BBQ committee assists in fixing streets and painting signs. Previously, the money from the BBQ helped pay for an accessible restroom in Winnetoon’s park.

Neumann said this year’s event had 700 pounds of barbecue pork butts. Other food was served, such as Creighton Locker Hot Dogs, Grandma Pam’s Potato Salad and baked beans. More than 900 people attended the BBQ. Later on, more than 900 people attended the BBQ.

“We get people from 200 miles away that come,”Lemke stated. “I don’t know why. They just come and bring more people with them every year.”

Annual BBQ was held at 4:30 PM. “kiddie parade,”Lemke explained. Eight floats featured barnyard themes. Participating in the parade received delicious icecream, prizes and free food.

Following the parade, everyone was served. The Winnetoon BBQ committee didn’t charge for the food that was served, instead accepting free-will donations.

Neumann states that food costs are paid by sponsorships and donations.

Later on, live music from two local artists — Prairie Thunder and Kimberly Meyer — enticed people out of potential food comas. There were raffle prizes for a Ruger 10/22 four-wheeler or four-wheeler as well as 250 and Blackstone grills. The Grand Prize was the Four-wheeler. This could be replaced by $5,000.

“I think it went until two in the morning, and there were quite a few people that came out of the countryside,”Lemke stated. “They just come out and socialize.”

Lemke explained that the barbecue takes a lot. The event attracted around 20-25 participants this year.

Every year, members of the BBQ committee meet with Gary Vesely from Brunswick State Bank in Winnetoon.

“When Marsha and I have a question, we go over and we talk about it with him,”Lemke stated.

Lemke mentions that Sherrie as well as others like Sherrie have been an enormous help. Zimmerer is one of six BBQ committee members. Joel Neumann, Joel Neumann, and Kim Lemke are the other members of this BBQ committee.

“We just want to thank everybody for what they do for us and the help that we get,”Lemke stated. “Everybody (that helps) is really important to us.”

Winnetoon News: More than 1,000 People Attend Annual BBQ| News

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