SET UP: Wahoo Saddle Club volunteers organize the Cook Shack at the rodeo arena Saturday morning. (Staff Photo by Lisa Brichacek)

WAHOO – When grabbing their favorite food and drinks from the cook shack at the Wahoo Saddle Club arena during the rodeo and fair, many people might be unaware of the sheer amount of work that goes into making sure those treats are there and ready to go.

“It’s a bigger job than I think most people realize,” said Wahoo Saddle Club Member and Cook Shack Coordinator Kathy Landgren.”I spend a lot of my summer and all of July making sure that things are ready to go.”   

Landgren has been running the Cook Shack at the rodeo arena on the Saunders County Fairgrounds in Wahoo since 2012.

“And I was back there working even before that,” she said. “There’s a lot that goes into it.”

Although the cook shack won’t open for the first time until 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 25, opening night of the Wahoo Saddle Club Rodeo, a lot of work has already been done.

“One of the big things is just making sure we get all of the food ordered,” she said.

In addition to the always popular hamburgers and cheeseburgers, other menu items include nachos, super nachos and Wahoo Pizza Hut pizza. There will also be candy and other snack items.

Landgren noted that the meat products, which are among the more popular items on the menu, will be coming from a local provider.

“We order all the meat – the hamburgers, the brats and the famous Wahoo Wieners – from the Wahoo Locker,” she said.

For her initial order, Landgren has purchased 1,600 hamburgers from the Wahoo Locker. Last year, she ended up augmenting that order by an additional 500 burgers, which she ordered to make sure they had enough for the other events throughout the week of the county fair’s motor sports.

Other necessary ingredients purchased for this year’s menu include 15 large cans of nacho cheese, eight one-gallon jugs of pickles and 100 pounds of meat for nachos.

“I know we go through more than 1,000 hot dogs during the week too,” added Landgren. ”I would say that our cheeseburgers and the super nachos have been our biggest sellers in the past. Also, the popcorn, which we pop fresh each night right there on site.”

And the popcorn isn’t the only thing that’s made right there at the cook shack. 

“We’ll have three to four guys there each night grilling,” she said. “So you can smell it cooking right there and you know it’s fresh.”

And while it’s wonderful to have everything prepared fresh right there on site, it isn’t easy. Beyond getting the food there, Landgren also has to make sure that there are enough people to prepare and serve it.

“We’ve got three to four guys working the grills, eight people inside taking orders and running food and three people making and boxing popcorn,” she said. “We have a lot of volunteers who help us to make sure things are fully stocked and volunteers to take care of the condiment table.

“Most people don’t think about it, but it gets messy, so we constantly have people out there cleaning up and refilling the condiments.” 

Once each day’s event is over, volunteers are also needed to help clean up and get ready for the next event.

“On rodeo nights, we’re usually there until around midnight, just cleaning and getting ready for the next night,” said Landgren.

Volunteers who help include a number of Wahoo Saddle Club members, as well as the Landgren’s friends and family members.

“We’ve been really fortu-

nate to have the great help that we’ve had,” she said. “For us, it really is a family affair.”

Landgren’s husband, Kirk Landgren, is the Wahoo Saddle Club president and spends much of his summer coordinating the event itself. Katelyn Houser, one of the Landgrens’ two daughters, focuses on the ads and publicity for the rodeo. Their other daughter, Kelsey Hrabik, manages the ticket booth. Even their sons-in-law will be on hand helping out at the cook shack’s grills and working behind the rodeo chutes.

The cook shack will open at 6 p.m. each evening of the Wahoo Saddle Club PRCA Rodeo. 

The cook shack will also be up and running for the fair’s motorsports events and for the second year in a row, it will be open with limited food options during the fair’s Friday night concert.

And after all the events are over, Landgren said that the cook shack will continue to serve the community.

“Our prices are reasonable, and we aren’t out to make a lot of money,” she said. “We just want to raise enough to continue to hold and improve the Saddle Club events. The rest, we donate.”

Recipients of past such donations include the Wahoo Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue squad, the Wounded Warrior Project and local Pink Nights, which support breast cancer awareness.

“So we really try to give back in that way too,” she said.

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