The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Erwin marks 50 years of fellowship


Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

GOGEBIC COUNTY Sheriff's Department deputy Cody Smith lets kids sit in one of the department vehicles while parents took pictures at Erwin Township's annual picnic Sunday.


ERWIN TOWNSHIP - The Erwin Township Hall was packed Sunday for the township's annual picnic.

Now in its 50th year, the Erwin Area Picnic started following the Erwin School's closure in 1967. Organizers with the Erwin Area Community Club said the idea for the picnic was born when the township's women wanted a way to keep the community together after the school's closure meant the end of traditional methods, like the parent teacher association.

"We're small but we're still here," organizer Joanne Sauter said regarding the township.

The organizers estimated around 100 to 125 people attended this year's picnic, with some coming as far away as Green Bay, Wis., and Alaska.

While the burgers and brats are donated, the rest of the food was brought potluck-style - meaning the volunteer spirit is crucial for the event's success.

"It all comes together, it's wonderful," organizer Helen Slining said. "(The volunteers) all just want to help."

The potluck-style also helps make sure there's something for even the pickiest eaters.

"If they go away hungry, it's their own fault," Slining joked.

Some volunteers make an annual trip from their home in L'Anse to help out with the picnic, which Slining said was just one of the reasons she feels the picnic is important.

"It makes you feel like it's important to people," she said regarding the couple's commitment. "It's people like that that makes it (worth it), it goes on and on."

The event is open to more than just Erwin Township residents, with anyone with a connection to the township welcome.

While raised in Erwin, even Slining now lives in Ironwood - but she makes sure she continues to help with the event because, "Erwin is in my blood," she said.

As the region's population is aging, the event now has runners who can take orders and bring plates for those who aren't able to make down the steps to the food.

"We don't want (people) to stop coming just because they can't do stairs," Slining said.

Along with the food and chance to catch up with neighbors, the picnic also offered an opportunity for residents to explore the museum and antiques that fill much of the township hall.

Those who are interested in helping with next year's event can contact Slining or Sauter.


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