By Kris Leonhardt
The Spencer Jaycees held their inaugural community gathering in 1965. Advertised as a community celebration, the event attracted large crowds during its Friday evening live music with the Moon Lite Valley Playboys, Saturday evening fireworks, and Sunday water fight between the Stratford and Spencer fire departments.
A mud wrestling exhibition between Mike Engel and Dale Toltzman rounded out the weekend of events, but heavy rains early Sunday evening made sure that even the spectators got a taste of the mud as well.
The community affair proved so successful that the Jaycees vowed to carry forward the event the following year, and that they did the next year, the year after that, and the year after that.
“In 1965 the Jaycees held a celebration, and it was such a success that they were planning on holding another one, and they called it Spencerama Days,” said Deb Schafer, deputy clerk treasurer for the village of Spencer.
Over the next several decades, Spencerama Days gathered families and old friends in a setting that kept the community coming back for more. However, as the 1990s came to a close, attendance at the event trickled off. While community leaders tried to revive it for a few years, the festival would be no more.
“2001 was the last Spencerama Days, and it sounds like there may have been a couple of years where it may have been kind of lean,” said Schafer.
Now in 2017, the Spencer community is working to bring Spencerama Days back to its former glory.
“What kind of got this going is Bruce Bonitz came in, and I hadn’t put their name on their normal weekend for the Vintage Car Show, so I said, ‘What happened to Spencerama Days?’” said Schafer.
“We talked a little about it, and he said, ‘You know, I wouldn’t mind some other activities going on the weekend of the Vintage Car Show.’ He would share the shelter and whatever.”
From that September 2016 conversation, two individuals turned into an entire community rallying around the event.
“From there it just kept on. Another group said, ‘Yeah, we could do this,’ and another group said, ‘We could do this.’ Pretty soon we had a whole lineup going,” Schafer said.
Spencerama Days are scheduled for June 9-11. The weekend will feature more than three dozen events for all ages, including a Saturday afternoon parade.
Those interested in signing up for the parade may contact the Spencer branch of Citizens State Bank. Event organizers are also seeking past Spencerama queens as well as vendors and crafters.
For more information on the 2017 Spencerama Days, visit spencerwi.org.