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A lust for rust

Slideshow: The World’s Greatest Junk Parade in Jefferson County, Wis., celebrates old manure spreaders and other discarded debris.

Last Labor Day, weekend activities got downright ugly on the road between Rome and Sullivan, Wis. In an unfashionable, friendly and spirited competition, some of the most repulsive and peculiar-looking vehicles from the surrounding area creeped, backfired, chugged and even broke down as they rolled along the pavement during the World’s Greatest Junk Parade.

“This bizarre event, quite possibly the only one of its kind, was a classic highlight in the 1970s and 1980s,” says Heidi Buchberger, committee member. “But it was announced that 2016 would be the final year for the parade.” Buchberger, Sullivan, didn’t want to see the tradition die. So a new committee was formed and raised enough money to continue in 2017.

About 45 floats registered for the parade. Cash prizes and custom-made trophies, designed by local resident Carl Anderson, were awarded to the winning entries. After the parade, floats were available for viewing at the park and adjacent school. For their help and the valuable assistance they provide throughout the year, the fire departments from each community received $2,000 each. The committee hopes to raise more funds for the Sullivan Elementary School and local emergency services, as well as other town outreach programs and events.

As discarded piles of tin and other junk passed down Sullivan’s packed main street, Buchberger says some of the creativity was certainly off the charts. “Folks draw on their imagination to fashion, staple, tie, compress and blend pieces together anyway they can. But most everything is just plain junk. From all the oohs and aahs, the crowd enjoys seeing things from a bygone era,” she says.

For more information, go to junkparade.com or the Facebook events page. Check out the slideshow to see some photos from the 2017 event.

Persinger writes from Milwaukee, Wis.

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