Liz Steve is all talk. Every year, she says she’s finished running the German sausage booth at Coeur d’Alene’s Art on the Green.
But the truth is Liz, who’s 70, loves the job.
“I would have to leave town to successfully turn it over to other people,” she says, as if admitting a shameful addiction.
For Art on the Green’s 27 years, Liz has loaded roast beef onto buns and smothered speckled sausages in sauerkraut. She’s squirted mustard on dogs as sweat trickled into her shoes. She’s breathed in enough spice to permanently pickle her schnoz.
“By the time it’s over each year, I don’t want to smell another sausage ever,” she says, wrinkling her nose.
But she can’t quit. There’s something intoxicating about buying 1,500 pounds of sausage, 300 pounds of roast beef, 660 pounds of hot dogs, 150 gallons of sauerkraut, 240 pounds of Swiss cheese and 500 dozen buns - all for a 21-hour feeding frenzy.
Liz tingles with the knowledge that some people come to the festival just for those succulent sausages that burst in their mouths like water balloons.
She revels in bank day, when receipts show that her German sausage operation wins the blue ribbon among food booths. A $15,000 profit is standard. It all brings art to the community.
Liz has sausage sales down to a science. She positions her volunteers and equipment for efficiency. Instinct tells her when to replenish the roaster ovens so nothing slows the line of hungry people.
That’s why no one will let her quit. Last year, festival organizers awarded her a plaque with a wooden German sausage on top and bottles of mustard and ketchup on each side. It honored her 30 years of service, which confused Liz until she read the inscription: “You’re not done yet.”
As another Art on the Green begins to sprout in Fort Sherman Park this weekend, Liz knows she’s ready.
“It’s a whale of a responsibility,” she says. “But it’s so exciting to set everything up that all thoughts of never doing it again are gone.”
Music alone shall live
Not every teenager is at Coeur d’Alene’s Independence Point soaking up sun this summer. At least 60 drag out their violins, trumpets, cellos and clarinets to play with the Coeur d’Alene Youth Symphony three mornings a week.
If you haven’t heard of it, you’re not alone. The symphony is new this year, the brainchild of Spokane Symphony violinist Cathyanne Lavins and Canfield Middle School music teacher Peggy Mahoney.
Catch them at Art on the Green at 4 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday playing Tchaikovsky’s “1812” overture (you know, the Quaker Oats music), Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony,” the haunting “Schindler’s List” and other great music.
The symphony will divide into a junior and senior group for the school year. Call Cathyanne at 667-9737 for details.
Sandpoint’s Dorothy Saunders learned a new way to play T-ball when she watched her grandson’s game recently. Her boy hit the ball into right field and the players on both teams ran for it. Meanwhile, her grandson cruised by each base unchallenged.
Sounds like all those parental lectures about helping others hit home…
Defending her honor
My request for painful names helped Coeur d’Alene’s Donna Kelly remember how relieved she was to marry and drop her maiden name, Gunderson. Kids called her Gundy and gunnysack. “I sicced my big brother on them,” Donna says.
What horrors did your brothers and sisters save you from (and make you pay dearly for later)? Record their brave deeds with Cynthia Taggart, “Close to Home,” 608 Northwest Blvd., Suite 200, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814; FAX to 765-7149; or call 765-7128.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo