Lac du Flambeau's 'Chuck the Butcher' hits 50 year mark, shows no signs of slowing downSubmitted: 04/18/2019
Story By Lane Kimble

Lac du Flambeau's 'Chuck the Butcher' hits 50 year mark, shows no signs of slowing down
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - The age-old idiom essentially says, "don't ask how the sausage gets made," but the time-tested Chuck Fairfield is more than happy to show you.

"I like the challenge of just creating the stuff," Fairfield said.

The ever-jolly "Chuck the Butcher" marks his 50th year in the business, getting his start in 1969.  He learned by watching other butchers while starting as a stocker at a small grocery store in the Upper Peninsula. 

Fairfield worked at Cirilli's grocery store in Rhinelander before taking a job at Lac du Flambeau's Country Market in 1998.  The butcher tried to retire for about four years (that didn't last very long though, he said with a laugh) but returned and hasn't left since.

"I had to take and work everything out, you know, there was time spent learning how to do it," Fairfield said of his profession, adding he could probably cut meat and make sausage in his sleep now.

Fairfield estimates he can crank out dozens of links in about 25 minutes. Over the years, his sausage and brat selection expanded into about 60 different options, from buffalo blue cheese to peanut butter bacon cheddar.

"You want something when you put it in the case, it stands out, you know?" Fairfield said. "So, people come and say, 'Wow, that really looks good' and they'll pick it up and take it home with them."

The finished product gets front-and-center treatment in the meat case just steps away from his butcher's office in the back of the market, pushing other name-brand products to the side. The Country Market is the only place to buy it and Chuck's customers know it.

"I've had people from California, New York, down south," Fairfield said. "I've even sent seasoning to England for a guy."

Soon, Fairfield will find himself making about 1,600 sausages a week during the busy summer tourist months. It's a season that gets going with the approaching Easter holiday, when he'll make plenty of Polish sausage.

Chuck knows retirement is approaching too, but that time won't come until someone else asks how all of his products get made.

"It isn't something you just learn in a couple hours... yeah, [it] takes 50 years!" Fairfield laughed.

Fairfield says he started training a young woman to eventually take over for him in Lac du Flambeau. In the meantime, he's always open to suggestions to add to his variety. Just knock on the door and offer your ideas.

"They always come in and say, boy this is really great, you know? Which is good to hear, when people come back and tell you that they like stuff," Fairfield said.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


Play Video

WISCONSIN - Every year we get our fair share of winter weather. From Blizzard Warnings to Winter Weather Advisories, the National Weather Service uses various tools to alert the public. Now, they have a new warning intended to keep you safer.

A new alert called a Snow Squall Warning will now be issued by National Weather Service offices in the Midwest, including our region.

"It's different than say a winter storm where the storm might last anywhere from 12 to 18 to 24 hours," said Green Bay National Weather Service Meteorologist Jim Skowronski. "This is something that might move through a location in 20 to 30 minutes."

+ Read More

Play Video

ELCHO - Pizza, with a side of locally grown farm fresh fruits and vegetables, was on the menu Wednesday at the Elcho School District.

"We have a hydroponic farm that offers tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet peppers," said Elcho Food Service Director Charlie Ferrigno.

+ Read More

Play Video

WAUSAU - People in the Wausau area will never forgot March 22, 2017.

Four people died in a shooting that still has a major impact on the community. 

On Wednesday, the victim's loved ones unveiled a new memorial in Kennedy Park dedicated to their lives.

It stands as a reminder of the tragic events that happened and as a symbol for the strength of the community.

"This is what Wausau does when times are tough," said Wausau Metro Strong member Cassandra Ambrosius. "We get together and rally behind each other and really make a difference."

Ambrosius organized the Run to Remember fundraiser, which made the memorial possible.

She was pleased to see such a large turnout.

"It's amazing to see so many people from so many walks of life here today to come together to see this become a reality," said Ambrosius. "I think it's a nice place people can come; we'll have some benches eventually. They can sit and reflect, or read, or just be and think about those four people and the impact they had."

Wausau Metro Strong formed after the 2017 shooting.

Former chief of police Jeffery Hardel started the group after outreach from community members looking to get involved.

"We didn't know what we could accomplish, but we knew that we wanted to make a difference. That's how Wausau Metro Strong started and we've been meeting monthly ever since," said Hardel.

Hardel says it took a lot of moving parts to make this memorial a reality.

From raising the money to finding a location, and leaning on the community for support.

"I feel very good right now knowing all our efforts came to fruition and we have a memorial that will honor those four victims forever," said Hardel.

+ Read More

MADISON - A jury in Wisconsin has awarded $450,000 to the father of a boy killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting after he filed a defamation lawsuit against conspiracy theorist writers who claimed the massacre never happened.

A Dane County jury Tuesday decided the amount James Fetzer must pay Leonard Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was among the 26 victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The state of Wisconsin is one of the few states that doesn't have a law similar to the CARE Act.

The CARE act defines steps hospitals must take to make sure caregivers have the knowledge they need when a patient is released.

Helen Marks Dicks, an advocacy director at the AARP believes Wisconsin lawmakers may take up the CARE act soon.

"40 states already have the care act," said Dicks. "We just got it introduced it was circulated for co-sponsorship recently in the Assembly and senate and we hoping to get introduced this year."

+ Read More

Play Video

SAYNER - After centuries, the bald eagle continues to represent the United States through the bird's strength and beauty.

But one eagle in the Northwoods needed a little help getting back to flying high.

"He came in the week after Fourth of July and he had burns reaching from his neck all the way down to one of his wings, which we suspect either from a lightning strike, or he was hit by a firework," said wildlife rehabilitator Amanda Schirmer.

Uncle Sam, as the Northwoods Wildlife Center (NWC) named the eagle, was discovered with burns and a broken bone near Plum Lake in Sayner, Wisc. But the organization had one problem before they could help: it was nowhere to be found.

"He kept disappearing on us, so we can't do anything for wildlife that we can't find," said Frances Torres, an intern with the NWC.

Luckily for the group, another intern at the Northwoods Wildlife Center went to an extreme length to find the eagle and bring it back to the facility.

"She went out and she caught him," said Torres. "She had to trudge through the lake to catch him, but she caught him and brought him in. And the rest is leading up to now."

Workers treated Uncle Sam with medications and used a splint for its broken bone. But the eagle still went through a long recovery.

"There was like a three-and-a-half to four-week period when he wasn't flying in the eagle flight. And we were getting quite nervous that he wasn't going to fly," said Schirmer.

But Uncle Sam earned its name for a reason. The eagle wouldn't accept being grounded without a fight.

"And then, all of sudden, within a week span, he decided that he was ready and 'I'm gonna start flying.' And he was flying up to his high perches very well," said Schirmer.

Finally, the tireless bird could fly like an eagle.

"To just watch it start standing on its own, eating on its own, to Uncle Sam flying on his own " there's nothing I can compare it to," Torres said. "It's so great to be able to see him take off like he did today."

Uncle Sam was released Wednesday afternoon at the Plum Lake Golf Club, which is where the eagle was originally found.

+ Read More

WESTON - Marshfield Clinic plans to buy hospitals in Park Falls and Weston now run by Ascension Wisconsin.

In a press release Tuesday, Marshfield and Ascension Wisconsin said they had reached a memorandum of understanding for a sale.

+ Read More
+ More General News