The Brooks Catsup Bottle has poured out its last festival, as organizers are canceling the event after 20 years.
Mike Gassmann, the official “Big Tomato” of the catsup bottle’s fan club, announced on Facebook this week that there will be no more Catsup Bottle Birthday Bash festivals. The annual July festival brought in vendors and music acts, a classic car show and catsup-tasting contest, but Gassmann said they’ve decided to “call it quits.”
“We’ve had a great run, but it was a lot of work,” he said. “A world’s largest thank you goes out to all of our sponsors, our volunteers, and especially to everyone who came out to the fest each year and helped make it such a success. We’ve met a lot of wonderful people literally from around the world — and have made many great new friends over the past 20 years.”
There was no drama or controversy, Gassmann said, and no decline in interest: attendance was higher than ever before in 2017, with the most vendors, sponsorships and community involvement they’ve ever had.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Although they had a “great team of volunteers” for the day of the event, Gassman said most of the organizing was handled by a three-person committee. When they wanted to hand it over, no one was interested in taking over running the event, and so they decided to let it go.
“We feel like we’re going out on top,” Gassmann said.
Instead, Gassmann said, they will focus on a succession of smaller events each year to promote the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, which stands 170 feet tall over Collinsville and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
First up will be the Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor celebration, where participants can get a “passport” stamped at historic sites along Route 66. The catsup bottle crew will be on hand to stamp passports and sell souvenirs on June 9, Gassmann said.
Then, a visit from the World’s Largest Idaho Potato Truck will take place in September for a French-fry-photo-op with “Larry and the Tater Twins,” just as the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile has dropped by in the past.
“As always, keep pourin’ it on and we’ll catsup with ya later,” Gassmann said.