Super Senior: Stan ‘Mr. Sausage’ Gumienny
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Champlain Valley Fair, like so many others around the region, is a summertime tradition -- the games, rides, and of course, the food. Stan Gumienny is the king of kielbasa, but most know him as “Mr. Sausage.”
“You’ve got to have a sausage,” Gumienny urges visitors. “It’s funny how many people come back year after year.”
For over 40 years fairgoers have made it to Stan’s stand. At 84, the South Burlington man’s days at the grill are limited. “I’m the onion peeler nowadays,” he admits. But Gumienny agreed to put on an apron for us and supervise the grill for old times’ sake. “Woo! ...It’s hot here,” he said.
Gumienny has earned the time away from the grill. When he first started it was just him and his late wife, Jeanette, running the booth.
His kids Julie, Justin, and Jackie make up today’s crew, all with years of experience. Julie and older sister Jill started when they could barely see over the counter.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Was there ever a time when Julie didn’t want to be here?
Stan Gumienny: Jeez, I don’t know. I don’t think so.
Julie Hollenbeck: As a kid, no. You’re pretty embarrassed. ‘I don’t want any of my friends to see me.’
But after a few years slinging sausages, Julie had a change of opinion -- all that hard work brought her cash. “We were able to do is earn money at a young age, and when you earn your own money, there’s a sense of independence,” she said. She’s been helping out ever since.
After a slow start, It’s turning into a busy day. Gumienny figures they will go through 200 pounds of pork. “We get behind sometimes. If we have photographers around here, it takes up our time,” he says with a laugh.
Reporter Joe Carroll: What do you think of your dad?
Julie Hollenbeck: He’s a piece of work. They broke the mold.
“They’ve been around a long time, so you don’t have to watch ‘em, although I do!” Gumienny said.
For Stan and the crew, the days are long. They’ll put in a 13-hour shift.
“Look at that sky. Oh my gosh, it’s beautiful!” Julie says.
Daytime turns to dusk and Gumienny adds his thoughts about the hundreds of kids who got their first job at Mr. Sausage, learning a true work ethic. “More kids should do things like this, you know. Sure, it’s just a small part of your life but somewhere along the line you did sausage, or whatever,” he said ))
Soon, it turns into a reunion. “There’s another old employee here,” Gumienny points out. A parade of former staff has come to see their old boss. “Here’s another one...He goes way back too.”
The sausages bring people, the friendships made here last a lifetime.
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