Martin Holtmeier claims his prize

Tasha Holtmeier holds a fishing rod as Martin Holtmeier, 1, steps forward to claim the prize he caught June 6 at the St. Gertrude picnic.

The Men’s Club at St. Gertrude Parish purchased 72 cases of chicken going into the weekend, enough to serve 2,000 dinners Sunday at the annual church picnic. Mark Monroig, Men’s Club president at the parish and an organizer of the event, said everyone was expecting a crowd.

Organizers were not disappointed. Volunteers lined the streets directing cars to park on grass beside full lots. Across the event, picnic tables and folding chairs were full of family and friends visiting and eating. The strong harmonies played by the Washington Brass Band filled the air above the chatter, and children excitedly rode wagons, played with reptiles, made balloon animals and climbed, swung and slid on the jungle gym. 

At the end of the day, the event had brought in around $28,000 before expenses, which Monroig said will be used to support the parish church and school.

The picnic — always on the first Sunday in June — is a staple of St. Gertrude and the community of Krakow each year. Fellow organizer Bob Elbert grew up attending the church and school, and he recalls his grandfather talking about attending the picnics when he was a child.

“The picnic’s been around since the 1930s, maybe earlier,” Elbert said. 

In 2020, the event was held as a drive-thru meal only in July and missed by many, Monroig said. Parishioners said they were eager to have the event back.

One parishioner and alumnus of the school, Jared Sickmann, traveled home from Colorado for the picnic. He sat with his dad, Kurt Sickmann, and his aunt Judy Sickmann, fellow alumni of the school.

“This is family tradition,” Kurt Sickmann said. “We come every year.”

The family listed many reasons for coming each year — the food, the music  — but said their favorite part is getting to visit with people. Monroig said visiting with people is his favorite, too. 

“It’s great getting everyone together. There’s a lot of people I only see once a year, at this,” Monroig said. “It’s good to see the parish families working together to support the church and school.”