Buffalo burgers will continue to be a yearly treat at Miners Jubilee, but the
Baker City Rotary Club
will no longer display their
At least, not the real wagon — a two-dimensional version decorates the side of the club’s new trailer.
The story of the wagon goes back nearly 40 years, to when the Rotary Club
decided buffalo burgers would be popular at fundraising events such as
A wagon seemed fitting for the new venture.
“I thought, I can find a wagon,” said Joe Bailey, who was then a Rotarian.
He found a wagon owned by Bill and Verla Boles.
“It was just four wheels and a short box,” Bailey said.
He bought it, hauled it home, and started the restoration process. Amer Higley helped build the upper part.
Once the wagon was usable, Rotary brought it out for local parades and parked it in Geiser-Pollman Park, at the intersection of the sidewalks, every Miners Jubilee to sell buffalo burgers.
“All in all, I think it turned out very well for Rotary,” Bailey said.
The wagon, said Rotarian Dotty Miles, helped advertise the club’s fundraiser.
“The wagon was the symbol of that’s where the buffalo burgers are,” Miles said.
There were only two times in the past 40 years when buffalo burgers were not on the menu due to rising prices. But the replacement offerings — strawberry shortcake and pulled beef sandwiches — didn’t sell well.
Now the buffalo is purchased locally from the Gyllenberg ranch.
“I think it’ll stay,” said Lloyd Nelson, chair of the buffalo burger committee. “We have a lot of loyal buffalo burger aficionados.”
Rotarian Bill Fessel remembers that the club worried about security in those early years, if the wagon was left overnight in the park.
“I said, ‘Well, I’ll sleep in the wagon,’ ” Fessel said.
And he did.
The wagon had a film career too — it appeared in a short movie created for the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.
“Our wagon is a film star,” Miles said with a laugh.
But the wagon has aged, and it has been replaced with a new trailer equipped with two refrigerator/freezers and secure storage for the Jubilee supplies.
And after Jubilee, the trailer provides storage space for Rotary’s aprons and supplies for the annual Easter egg hunt.
It can hold all the club’s items except the 240 flags that are set out in the community on holidays.
As for the wagon, the club is looking to sell it. For information, contact Ken Krohn, 541-519-5952.
Rotary International was founded in 1905 by Paul Harris in Chicago as a club for professionals (business owners, or those in management).
The Baker City Rotary Club was established in 1956. A cornerstone of membership was to attend 70% or more of the meetings — even if that meant attending a Rotary meeting in a different town.
Today there are 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide. The membership rules have relaxed, and the club opened to women in 1989.
Locally, the club supports the literacy program, funds scholarships, provides free bike helmets through the Baker City Police Department, organizes the Easter egg hunt and supports Sleep in Heavenly Peace (both by donating money and helping build beds).
And it’s all volunteer.
“You know where all the money’s going because no one gets paid,” Bob Somma said.
“It’s one of the best foundations out there,” Nelson added.
Internationally, Rotary has worked to eradicate polio.
At its largest, the Baker City Rotary Club had a roster of more than 70 members. Today, that number is 30.
Rotary meets at noon on Mondays at Baker Tower. For more information, call Greg Baxter, membership chair, at 541-523-8205.