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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.


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