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Giant kaffe pot

A giant coffee pot made its debut at Willmar's Kaffe Fest in 1947. It stood as the centerpiece of the 250-foot coffee bar built for the city festival. The story of Kaffe Fest started after a survey by the Willmar Tribune in the 1940s found coffee...

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A giant coffee pot made its debut at Willmar's Kaffe Fest in 1947. It stood as the centerpiece of the 250-foot coffee bar built for the city festival.

The story of Kaffe Fest started after a survey by the Willmar Tribune in the 1940s found coffee consumption in Willmar was in the "astronomical" figures. This, and an organization called the Willmar Saucer Drinking Society, started the first Kaffe Fest in 1946.

It's reported that 15,000 to 20,000 cups of coffee were served during the three-day event in 1946.

The word "Kaffe" is not a typo, rather is the Swedish spelling for coffee.

The coffee pot was constructed by the Dwight Johnson-Johnson Company, a heating and ventilating contractor that also did sheet metal work. It stands about 10 feet in height.

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The pot was painted by Boehner Brothers and the lettering was done by Boomer Sign. The engraving was by John M. Sames.

The coffee pot stood on a trailer donated by Sears Roebuck.

It was designed to be used as a float in parades and in celebrations in nearby towns and cities.

But what happened to the pot?

Where was it stored after the Kaffe Fest was over for the year?

One story is that it was in front of a business downtown the rest of the year. Is that true?

What is known from Sonia Liedman is that her brother Stan Liedman worked for a sign company and was asked to remove the coffee pot and take it to the dump sometime in the 1960s.

He didn't have the heart to do that, so he took it to his parents' farm outside of Grove City. A door was cut into the side and it was made into a playhouse. Later on, it was used as a chicken coop.

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Last summer during Willmar Fests, the Kandiyohi County Historical Society posted a photo on its Facebook page wondering what had happened to the pot.

Sonia contacted them, said "it is in my farm grove". The KCHS now has the pot.

The pot was retrieved and is in storage for the winter. The goal is to raise money to restore it next spring.

The KCHS is seeking more information about the pot for the time period before it went to the Liedman farm. They have several photos showing different images on it. The dates were repainted each year with the original Kaffe Fest in July.

Do you remember the early Kaffe Fests and the events of it?

What do you remember about the coffee pot?

Do you know anyone who helped build it?

Do you remember it in parades in Willmar and other towns?

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Do you have any photos of the coffee pot in parades, or downtown?

All stories, reminisces and photos about Kaffe Fest, the coffee pot and other events would be appreciated.

Contact the Kandiyohi County Historical Society at the museum next to the train engine across from Robbins Island in Willmar, call 320-235-1881 or email kandhist@msn.com .

Related Topics: HISTORY
Donna Middleton started working at the West Central Tribune in 1975 and has been the news assistant since 1992. She compiles the arts, health, farm and community page calendars, as well as rewrites and works on the special sections.
She can be contacted at dmiddleton@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4341.
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