The Ptacek family’s IGA Grocery store in Prescott, WI, recently celebrated its 100 year anniversary with the creation of the world’s largest bratwurst.
It’s folks like the Ptacek family that become the driving force that fuels an industry of interrelated dependency. Without those creative juices flowing, there would be a lot of feedlots sitting empty across the country.
Building and creating demand may be the most important integral part in the scheme of meat and livestock production. We can grow and process it, but until someone creates a consumer driven product, all of our efforts are for naught.
The brat is one such product, and none does it better than the Ptaceks. They have not only created the world’s largest brat but they hold the distinction of producing the Reserve Grand Champion Brat, as awarded by the T.Z.A.M.
It seems only fitting that such prestigious accomplishments should happen in the state of Wisconsin — home to the very iconic roots of the meat and livestock industry. Oscar Mayer & Co., the gold standard of the meat industry, migrated from Germany to Wisconsin about 25 years prior to the opening of the Ptacek family business. So along with other national brands such as Hillshire Meats, the brat has become as uniquely Wisconsin as motherhood and apple pie, or more appropriately, beer and brats.
The Ptacek family business can be traced back to Grandpa John Ptacek who started the business 100 years ago, and the reason for the 100-year celebration which featured the world’s largest brat.
Mike Ptacek, the patriarch of both the family and the business, took the business over from his parents, Don & Charlotte Ptacek, and handed it over to his children as of Jan. 1st. Catherine, Raphael, Pat, Tom, Nick and Rochelle will each be 8% owners of a business that they have so deservedly earned. Like their father, they have worked hard to earn this ownership position. They have played a big role in the success of a business that has grown out of quality, integrity, and a sense of appreciation for serving its customer clientele.
If there was ever a more community dominant enterprise in America, I would be hard pressed to know where. The Ptacek family-run IGA Grocery Store is without a doubt, the most honored and respected business in Prescott, WI.
In this beautifully nestled city, located on the confluence of the Mississippi/St. Croix Rivers is the often emulated template of the St Croix Valley, and home to the world’s largest brat. The city is unique, as just as it took a dedicated family; it took a village to put this celebration together. This was apparent on the day of the celebration, as hundreds of people turned out to help celebrate and witness history in the making. Cars were lined up on every side street in the city, and everybody within walking distance was there to huddle in close to witness this once in a life-time experience.
It took many willing hands to roll out a 50-foot plus bratwurst onto an improvised grill of gigantic proportion. And even more ingenuity to create a bun of this magnitude.
It took 40 pounds of dough prepared by the Village Hearth Natural Bread Company of St. Cloud, MN, to form and bake the record bun. The bun had to be delivered by a semi-trailer tractor long enough to accommodate the 50-plus feet brat.
This in itself was a sight to behold, as it was gently put in place and strategically sliced.
But the Brat itself was the crescendo of crowd anticipation. At last, the coals were hot enough, and the 35-pound bratwurst was unwound from its tub onto the smoldering grill, and over 20 assistants lined up along the grill to systematically turn the brat for even cooking. If either the brat or the bun was broken, they would be disqualified from the contest. To comply with the standards and regulations of the Guinness Book of Records, they called in the city police chief and a state weights and measurements officer to make the official measurement of 52’ (feet) and 2” (inches) before having it registered with the World Record academy.
This was no small feat to accomplish, nor was it cheap, as the World Record Academy required a fee of $1900 to have it officially recognized. It was so much money that Pat Ptacek was having second thoughts (and even audible whispers of profanity) before digging deep into his coffers for another couple thousand dollars. After a $20,000 bun and the cost of a couple of gigantic brats , one for the record and one for the road, what’s a couple more dollars?
But this family has always been reaching deep to find ways to serve the community that has supported them so well for more than a 100 years. In recognition for their service, they have been awarded the Chamber Business of the Year award, and have received the IGA Star Store award for five consecutive years.
Mike Ptacek (father) has become such a fixture in the store, that it is doubtful that the kids will be able to persuade him otherwise, but it is their wish for the New Year that Mike and his wife Jan be rewarded for their many years of hard work and dedication by having some well-deserved time to themselves.
The meat and livestock industry thanks them for their many years of service and contribution. And the Prescott community thanks them and their staff of "Mike-minded" people for what they have meant to this community.
It is with deepest respect that we continue to support the Ptacek family tradition for the next 100 years.
"PONY TALES by PONTY": The Ptackeks: "The Family That Makes You Feel Like Family"
(more insightful stories written by Ken Knight)
In a Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 photo, A crew from Ptacek’s IGA carefully turns a giant brat on the grill while attempting to set a world record for the longest brat in Prescott, Wis. Two western Wisconsin communities are disputing who gets bragging rights to the biggest bratwurst after last week’s news accounts of Prescott’s world-record-setting bratwurst, which was 52 feet, 2 inches long. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports some in Dallas, Wis. heard about it and protested, saying they’ve grilled big bratwursts the last four years for Oktoberfest and this year’s was 135 feet long. But Dallas didn’t get the official record because they didn’t use a bun and didn’t pay the $1,900 fee to the World Record Academy in Florida. (AP Photo/Pioneer Press, Scott Takushi) MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE OUT / AP
Ken E. Knight is the author of the “Knightro Report”, a nationally syndicated livestock-marketing column, which is featured in this publication on a regular basis. Mr. Knight is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a major BS Degree in Meat and Animal Science and a minor in Communications. In addition to being a professional auctioneer, public speaker and livestock judge, he brings many years of corporate level meat and livestock market management and expertise to the industry for which he now serves as an independent voice of shared knowledge and experience.
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For more in-depth information regarding the topics that have been touched upon in this report, Knightro conducts livestock marketing seminars on a regular basis. To schedule a seminar, auction, judging, or speaking engagement, please contact Ken Knight, Knightro, W11911 County Road FF, River Falls, WI 54022, phone toll free 1-877-KNIGTRO, phone 715-262-8480, fax 715-262-8480, e-mail [email protected]t; or contact the Midwest Farm & Livestock Directory at [email protected].