Big crowd comes out for Home Sweet Hesston

Joey Sieber, with Hesston Machine & Welding, serves up some pulled pork, while Scott Swartzendruber grills in the background.

By Blake Spurney

HESSTON—About 400 people came out Saturday to help celebrate Home Sweet Hesston on a beautiful day downtown.

The main attraction was the barbecue competition, which was won by Rusty Whitcher’s ribs on behalf of Hesston Golf Park.

Johann Reimer brought the family to the event during a break in his 8-year-old’s busy day of soccer games.

“Good food. You know we’ve got soccer games before and after, and we wanted to fuel up so we can play soccer after,” Reimer said.

Police Chief Chris Eilert said the department’s pulled pork was a team effort on which everybody worked. He declined to reveal what was in the rub and the vinegar-based barbecue sauce, because he said it was proprietary.

Joey Sieber, with Hesston Machine & Welding, said he began working on his pulled pork at 10 a.m. Friday.

“I smoked it for eight hours on my offset, and then I wrapped it in foil and finished it in the oven for another six hours,” Joey Sieber said.

He then let sit for a while. All told, he invested 24 hours into the final product.

Todd Lehman appreciated the sweat equity that Sieber put into it. He said Sieber’s barbecue was his favorite. His daughter, Aria, agreed and said she liked “the peppery one.”

“We try to come whenever there’s a community event,” Julie Lehman said.

She said it felt nice to be outside when there was less anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have felt pretty comfortable in outdoor spaces,” Todd said.

“When we’re indoors, we wear masks,” Eliya said.

Eliya and Aria both have volunteered to be test subjects for the vaccination for those 12 and younger.

“We’re helping a bunch of other kids get a vaccine by helping scientists know what works or not,” Eliya said. “And me and Aria, we’re really excited to do it.”

Their parents signed up to be test subjects for the Moderna vaccine. Todd said he later learned that he received the placebo and his wife received the vaccine.

“We like to think we’re contributing to society,” Todd said.

Susan Lamb, one of the event organizers, said she appreciated the support shown by the community for the event. She gave credit to the entire Hesston Recreation Commission office.

“We were really pleased and grateful,” she said. “The number of people out, it was great support.”

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