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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RHINELANDER - Today, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest opened picnic areas and beaches across most of the Forest as well as developed dispersed campsites.

In addition, restrooms and garbage receptacles will be available and fees will be charged at sites that are open and have full services.

Please note that some developed dispersed campsites in the Lakewood-Laona Ranger District remain closed due the July 2019 blowdown.

The Forest has two sites operated through a concessionaire permit that will also be opening.

The Two Lakes Campground will be open on a first-come, first-serve basis starting today and resume reservations on Sunday, June 7.

Group campsites at this facility will remain closed.

The Lost Lake Cabins will open, and reservations will be honored.

Visitors are encouraged to check their reservations and/or contact the concessionaire with questions.

In addition, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is lifting the campfire ban in Langlade and Oconto counties following recent rain events and current conditions.

The Forest will continue to monitor the fire danger in the July 2019 blowdown area and reassess restrictions as necessary.

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The crown jewel for the City of Festivals, and the largest music festival in the United States, was canceled for the first time, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Thursday morning in a unanimous vote by the board of Summerfest's parent company, Milwaukee World Festival Inc.

"Given the information available today, and the uncertainty surrounding very large gatherings, we cannot in good conscience proceed with the festival this year," Don Smiley, Milwaukee World Festival CEO, said in a statement. "The immediate future presents multiple levels of risk for our fans, and we choose the side of safety."

Refunds for Summerfest general-admission tickets are available at summerfest.com through July 17. 2020 general admission tickets and passes will also be honored for Summerfest 2021. Summerfest officials said dates for next year will be announced in the coming weeks.

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The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported Friday that 3% of all test results were positive.

That continues a downward trend over the past two weeks.

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Police say Matthew Beyer, of Manitowoc, is in custody on possible charges of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

5-year-old William and 3-year-old Danielle Beyer were found dead Feb. 17 in a Kaukauna duplex.

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MADISON - Organizers of the World Dairy Expo in Madison have canceled this year's event because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

It's the first time the annual trade show has been canceled in its 53-year history. 

Event organizers said they made the decision Thursday because of COVID-19 travel restrictions and health orders issued by the City of Madison and Dane County. 

The event  described as the Super Bowl of dairy  attracts tens of thousands of people from around the world. 

In 2019, the event attracted more than 62,000 people from nearly 100 countries.

 Organizers say the event will return in the fall of 2021.

 But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports there are no plans to reschedule for this year.

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