The 54th Virgil Stampede has come and gone, with the overall reaction from those who attended one of delight it was back.
Richard Wall, president of the Virgil Business Association, said although there were some glitches throughout the weekend, Monday might have been the best day in more than four decades of the popular May event.
The weather was a problem later in the day Saturday, and most of the day Sunday, but Monday made up for it.
“It was a great way to finish up the weekend,” says Wall. “I don’t have any numbers yet, and I can’t guarantee it, but Phil and I are 98 per cent sure Monday was the biggest single day in the history of the stampede.”
Phil Leboudec of Phil’s Independent looks after the food supplies every year, and this year, expecting a good turnout, ordered 90 boxes of burgers, whereas other years he had ordered 70. By the end of the day Monday the burgers, as well as most of the food, including the fries, were sold out.
“That’s very unusual,” says Wall.
There were longer lineups than in past years, both at the food booths and rides, and there were some complaints about the rides, he says.
Dennis McCarthy and Luanne Sebesta were first-time volunteers at the hamburger and hot dog booth, mid-day Saturday, and were rushed off their feet their whole shift, says Sebesta.
“I’d never been to the stampede,” says McCarthy, who is new to Virgil, “but Richard asked me to help out, so I did. It was a wonderful experience, and if I’m asked, I’ll do it again.”
Sebesta also enjoyed the afternoon. They were volunteering with two friends, and had a lot of fun. “It was fabulous.”
The ride company was at the stampede for the first time, and was having typical COVID problems, says Wall. Some of the rides weren’t working because of a shortage of parts, they couldn’t bring the assortment of rides they expected to because they hadn’t had a chance
to pass government inspections, and they were short-staffed.
“They were doing their best, but they were facing COVID repercussions,” says Wall. “These are problems everyone is facing in a COVID world.”
Overall, though, “there was a great vibe, a great feeling, and people seemed just happy to be back.”
He relates a story of a young boy coming up to him and pulling on his apron, to say “‘thank you, Mr. Wall, for bringing back the stampede.’ That made it all worth it. It just summed up the weekend.”