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Brat Fest 2012 - The World’s Largest Brat Festival Starts this Friday! | Arts & Culture

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Brat Fest 2012 - The World’s Largest Brat Festival Starts this Friday!
Brat Fest 2012 - The World’s Largest Brat Festival Starts this Friday!

Nothing like kicking off your long weekend with a grilled brat for breakfast!

Fans of Madison’s World’s Largest Brat Fest can begin “cele-BRAT-ting” at 6 a.m. on Friday, when “Take Your Brat to Work Day” begins at Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center.

Many Madison business offices gather orders from employees early in the week and designate a “Brat Runner” to swing by Willow Island on their way into work.

Last year, nearly 15,500 brats were sold between 6am and 9 a.m. at the Take Your Brat to Work Day “drive-through” at Willow Island.

“We look forward to the Friday before Memorial Day weekend every year so we can eat brats at the office at 8am — it’s fun!” said Sharon Zelanka of Hammes Sports Development. ”It’s our breakfast, lunch and snack, too!”

After a morning of consuming brats at the office, Madisonians can plan an early escape to make their way over to Brat Fest, which opens at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 25, and continues through Monday, May 28, until 6 p.m.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the World’s Largest Brat Fest, which is presented by Johnsonville and produced by Metcalfe’s Market. Since its inception, the volunteers who have taken part in Brat Fest have helped raise more than a million dollars for local organizations, including Special Olympics, Boy Scouts of America, local schools and more.

”We’re proud to continue the tradition my dad started 30 years ago,” said Tim Metcalfe, president and co-owner of Metcalfe’s Market. “Brat Fest is about helping our community through supporting local charities -- more than 100 of them -- and we have a great time doing it! All of our volunteers make this event possible each year -- it’s a very powerful statement about the generosity of the residents of our Madison area. Our sponsors are extremely generous.”

Last year, Brat Fest raised $130,000 for local charities. This year, Metcalfe says that he thinks they’re on track to do the same or better. Each year, a portion of the proceeds from Brat Fest goes to the “Brat Fest Endowment Foundation,” set up by Tim and Kevin Metcalfe in 2010 to honor their late father, the original founder of the World’s Largest Brat Fest, Tom Metcalfe. The Foundation continues the legacy of the World’s Largest Brat Fest all-year round and supports organizations and community projects that align with Brat Fest’s mission of giving back to the community and thanking their customers for their continued support.

In 2010, Brat Fest attendees set a new world record, consuming 209,376 brats during the 4-day event. ”This is a rain or shine event,” said Tim Metcalfe. “However, if the rain stays away for a majority of the weekend, we are optimistic that we can beat our world record in 2012.”

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