Rob Hillesland Summit-Tribune
After a year without a national hobo convention in 2020 due to COVID-19, 2021 saw a return of Britt Hobo Days and a changing of the guard with a younger generation representing the hobos as king and queen.
Born in 2001, 20-year-old Angelica Ward is known as Tramp Sully. After taking her first train at 17, she said she had thought for a moment that she was joining a dying lifestyle.
Hobos rose to prominence after the Civil War, traveled and worked hard, and made freight trains their primary form of transportation. Since 1900, the town of Britt has held its annual event.
“I thought my way of life was forgotten,” Sully said. “Then I came here (Britt) and realized that people were working to keep him alive.”
King Bazz Man encouraged a large crowd gathered for the coronation to love others and have a good heart. He admitted that he too was a wanderer of the younger generation in his first decade of train jumps.
“I never thought I would be a famous bum,” he said. “I have a real appreciation for it. Hobo is not dead. I am watching him.
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Passing the torch to the new hobo kingship, former King Slim Tim said “Britt is the biggest part of my heart” as he held his hand over his heart. Former Queen Flux (now Magnolia) said it was “amazing to see all the other young riders,” noting how an honor it was to return to Britt.
“Thank you for allowing the bums to come back every year,” Sully said. “For all of us born in this century, the future is in our hands. We all have to make sure that this thing lasts or it will go away. “
Candidates for Queen 2021 at Britt City Park also included the return of Britt native Kristin Jenn, known as Bucket List Kris. She graduated from West Hancock High School in 1996, which listened to bum stories every summer in Britt. Jenn has now been a traveling National Parks Tour Guide for 16 years for six months a year.
“I grew up with bums,” she says. “We would go to the tramp jungle on our bikes when we were kids.”
Queen runner-up candidate Angie Angel, who was tied with Sully after the crowd’s initial applause and judgment, had come in 1994 in her youth and traveled to the hobo jungle with her father, who was argued King Hobo.
“Hobos are the nicest, sweetest people you can meet,” said Angie Angel.
Half Track, which celebrated 25 years of participating in Britt Hobo Days, was another contender for the 2021 Queen, while North Star fought over the Queen in relation to Hobo Bird (1911-1930 conventions) and as a sister. Cadet of 1990 Hobo Queen Gypsy Moon. Candidate Mama Dogg, who runs a non-profit organization for nomadic pets, said she had been traveling as a bum for about 12 years.
“This is my life,” she said. “It’s not a show.”
Several other contenders battled it out for the King of Hobo Days 2021.
Big Skip, tall and bearded, said, “I’m a little too fat to try to get on trains,” admitting he has back pain and uses recreational vehicles. Louie, 31, of Portland, Oregon, said he represented all the young riders after taking his first train in 2015. Shoestring, who mentors and helps young bums, started riding in 1989 and is arrived at Britt for the first time in 2000 and 2001, but did not compete for the king at the time.
“How happy all wanderers are to be able to be here in Britt again,” Queen Maggie said of the 1994 Hobo Days.
Surrounding the excitement of the Queen and King’s coronation was the long-standing tradition of making and serving Mulligan Stew for free. Full of potatoes, vegetables, rice, tender stew meat, and other secret spice ingredients, everyone ate as much as they wanted. Many brought buckets, buckets and thermos to take home the leftover stew.
“Everyone helps themselves,” said Britt Mayor Ryan Arnsdorfer. “We have three jars left and we don’t want to waste any. “
One successful auction included the sale of a throne, found by North Star, for the 2021 Hobo National Convention. She found it by going “antiques” in search of a throne. The piece was from an Indiana lodge, but was in poor condition. It was quickly repaired and restored, and then collected the signatures of the current Hobo Queens and Kings at this year’s convention, as well as the years they reigned. Bucket List Kris was the top bidder, buying the Memorial Throne for $ 600.
Another of the many unique auction items was a quilt that took many hours to make.
“Last year was supposed to be the 10th year we had Hobo Days,” said Arndorfer. “Of course, COVID has come. This is the only chance to own a personal tramp t-shirt.
Arndorfer said the Britt Hobo Days committee and committee chair Amy Boekelman wanted to do something special. Thus, an official orange hobo staff t-shirt was incorporated into the quilt. It sold for $ 450. Committee members said they were happy everyone was coming back to Britt this year after the 2020 convention was canceled, which was worth all the planning, fundraising and hard work. .
Das Bar Juden from Nevada, Iowa, wore his wedding kilt to Hobo Days, accompanied by his wife Hannah and daughters Bugs and Smiles.
“I’m just hanging out with the new kids,” he said. “My favorite part is meeting the new train kids coming to town. “
Charlotte McNeese, daughter of Hunter and Maria McNeese, reigns as 2021 Little Miss Britt after being crowned on the opening night of the Hobo Days festivities on August 12. She also took part in the parade on August 14.
Merchants and crafts lined Britt’s Main Street, the carnival had rides for the kids, and the National Hobo Museum was open with its many authentic hobo artifacts on display.
The Real Beals, a true one man band, performed on Britt’s Main Street several times throughout the weekend, equipped with their vocals, guitar, drums, cymbals and harmonica.
Dazzling Dave Yo-Yo Fun has been a hit with kids and parents alike. Staff from the local Titanium Lunchbox restaurant / food truck served hot pizza slices to spectators along the parade route. Henry Gremmer served as Parade Grand Marshal.
A class reunion and alumni banquet was held at West Hancock Elementary School, hobo poetry was read in the hobo jungle, Sparkles the Clown featured comedy, street magic and balloons; and Hillbilly Bob of Dysart welcomed visitors to Britt for the fifth time. He stood next to his classic Ford Model A named “Old Ruthie” and was constantly surrounded by people asking questions about him and his car, filled with personal belongings.
“I’ve been doing this for 28 years,” said Hillbilly Bob. “I’ve taken her to 41 states and Canada.”
There were evening concerts in Veteran’s Park by the Church of Cash, a Johnny Cash Tribute Band, and Elvis Tribute Artist Art Kistler and the EP Boulevard Band as well as a classic vehicle exhibit and hobo art galleries . The historic society’s homemade pie and ice cream party wrapped up a successful weekend.
Rob Hillesland is the community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at [email protected]