The North Bend Eagle


Birchwood marks 10 years of foolish festing

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 3/28/12

Ten years ago Pamela Griffin was told that the North Bend-Morse Bluff community was not a prom-type community. They were more a polka-type community.

April fool's festPam Thege-Eggleston and Robin Kellogg of Birchwood Manor are preparing for the April Fool's Fest.

She relented and April Fool’s Fest was born. Griffin thought she’d get her prom the next year. That didn’t happen either.

Birchwood Manor will hold it’s 10th annual April Fool’s Fest Thursday, complete with polka music provided by Shifting Sands.

The Fest was born out of a need for rehabilitation equipment at Birchwood Manor in 2002.

“We needed to increase our ability to serve people in town,” Griffin said. She serves as administrator of BWM. “If people needed (rehabilitation) they had go to Fremont. Now we could offer it closer to home.”

When discussing what else to offer with the polka music, someone jokingly suggested beef fries, thinking of the success of the “Testicle Festivel” in South Bend. That started the ball rolling. Next, gizzards, liver and onions were added to the menu.

Through the years they have tried different sources of the fries. This year they are returning to beef fries. Pat Chapman, who has since retired from Birchwood, has always made, and will again this year, the liver and onions.

“She makes the best liver and onions,” said Griffin, who grew up eating liver and onions but has since given it up.

Griffin will readily admit that she is not one who likes these delicacy, so sloppy joes and hot dogs are also offered.

Griffin was surprised that the April Fool’s Fest—and the food — was such a hit.

“We wanted to do something in the community every year,” Griffin said, “but I didn’t think it’d be this.”

Pam Thege-Eggleston, Birchwood’s medical records and central supply person, has served as chairman for eight years. She says that people stop her on the street and ask her if BWM is doing the Fest again.

“It’s nice for me to have the opportunity to give back to my hometown,” Eggleson said. “We all look forward to the Fest. It’s a good time for us and the community.”

After the first two years and the rehab equipment was purchased for BWM, Griffin and her management team decided to continue holding the Fest and return the funds raised back to the community. Birchwood pledges an amount—$1,200 this year—to an organization. This year’s beneficiary is the North Bend-Morse Bluff Baseball Association. Any amount raised at the benefit over the expenses will also go to the organization. But even if the amount pledged to the group is not raised, BWM will still pay that amount.

Groups who have benefited in the past include Boy and Girl Scouts, North Bend’s sesquicentennial celebration, the Franklin-Cotterrell Arboretum, the new North Bend Library, and playground equipment for the Groff Field, the high school softball fields and North Bend Elementary. Ever since the scouts took part, those who have benefited from the funds have taken part in the fund raiser.

BWM buys the meat, beans, cookies, paper products and drinks with the hot dogs donated by Wimmers. Griffin said that all employees are given the opportunity to participate, making and donating a salad or working that evening.

“It’s such an awesome opportunity to meet the community and hear how much they (BWM employees) are appreciated,” Griffin said.

Griffin keeps the event as local as possible. She has rotated the serving of the beer between different North Bend establishments. This year Dodger Bowl will be manning the bar.

Other people who have had a part in the event include Wayde Bang, John Eggleson and Kent Rothanzl, who do the frying. Doug Hoops offered his frying equipment a few years ago and continues to helps with the frying. The Thege family, Marlene, Robert, Cheryl and Pam, have been supporters since the beginning. Pam now serves as chairman, and the others help out where ever they can. The Anderson family, Jenny, Mike, Susan and Trenton, are also there every year. Griffin also credits many other employees who have been contributors to the success of the April Fool’s Fest.

New to the event is Robin Kellogg, the dietary manager at Birchwood. This will be her second year contributing to the April Fool’s Fest.

“I thought it was crazy at first - all the food and stuff,” Kellogg said. “I am amazed that the people look forward to it. Everyone seems to have a blast.”

<<Back to the front page