To quote Yogi Berra, “Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.”
You could definitely feel the love at Nennig Park Friday evening, as family members and friends from the community gathered to dedicate the new Woelfel Grill Haus, built to honor Al and Kevin Woelfel for contributing their time, energy and grilling talents for decades.
The idea to build the Grill Haus had its start with Chilton Athletic Club members back in January. After Kevin’s untimely death in December of last year, the ACs wanted to come up with a way to remember him and his dad, Al, for the endless support they provided the club over the years.
AC President Matt Waldron said Kevin and Al were just always there, part of the club, ready to help in any way they could. He said when he checked old minutes from meetings held 30 years ago, even during the cold, not-so-much-baseball months of December, January and February when only a half dozen members would show up for meetings, Kevin and Al were there. “They never wanted to be out front or be officers, but they were the biggest contributors. They were just solid guys.”
Waldron said that Al had been a member of the German-American Society when “he started cooking down at the fairgrounds and became a legend, and then he came into the Athletic Club in the 1990s and started grilling here.” He said Al and his wife, Cleta, would do the cooking “and Cleta would bring in pickles, kohlrabi, and everything else. It’s a tradition, a wonderful tradition, and it’s meant so much to the club.”
Waldron added, “And Kevin, any time anything needed to be done, every time, it didn’t matter whether it was getting charcoal, Kevin was just always a guy that just wanted to do stuff. He wanted to be in the background, he didn’t want any recognition. And it’s about community, it’s who we are as Americans, right, it’s who we should be.”
Waldron said after the idea for the Grill Haus was proposed and they started putting together the numbers, they realized the estimates for the project were topping out over $50,000. But he said the AC members were not going to be dissuaded, adding they agreed, “‘This is going to happen, if it’s got to come out of our pockets, it’s going to happen.’”
(For more on this story please see the June 17 issue of the Tri-County News.)