Last-minute vendors fill Antietam's needs

July 05, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

SHARPSBURG - Plans were nearly completed for the 13th annual Salute to Independence about a week and a half ago when organizers realized there was no food to sell.

The Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Department, which has typically served food at the concert, told Antietam National Battlefield officials that they could provide drinks but not food.

That left the event "in a bit of a pickle," said Park Superintendent John Howard.

Organizers turned to Charlie Sekula, owner of the Schmankerl Stube, a German restaurant in Hagerstown.

Food for up to 3,000 people? Sekula thought he could do it, but he needed help from his friend Jim Kercheval, owner of Kerch's Southern BBQ.

"He said, 'You're crazy. We got a week,''' said Sekula, recalling his conversation with Kercheval.

It usually takes a month to organize the food service for the event, officials said.

But Sekula and Kercheval went for it.

They quickly ordered 1,000 bratwurst, 2,000 sandwich rolls, 50 cases of French fries, 60 gallons of frying oil, hot dogs, onions, peppers and other food.


Whitetail Resort donated a fryer and Sekula and Kercheval were able to rent another one from the Washington County Restaurant and Beverage Association.

At showtime Saturday, Sekula and Kercheval were ready to go. Workers cooked up bratwurst on Sekula's gas fired "turbo broiler," while a line of hungry concert-goers began to form.

Kercheval was there with his familiar "rib rover," a pink van with pig ears and nose attached to the outside.

"It was a logistical nightmare, but everyone was great to work with," said Sekula.

Vic Smith, one of the spectators at Saturday's event, said he had looked forward to buying food from the fire department. Smith, of Sharpsburg, said the food sale was a good fund-raiser for the department.

But he wasn't complaining when he saw the steaming German cuisine Saturday evening.

"It's hard to beat a good knockwurst," said Smith.

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