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Fundraisers that pop

December 28, 2018

Many towns have a local landmark that reminds locals of years gone by. For Beatrice, one of those landmarks really pops.

Traubel’s Popcorn Stand first opened in 1937 and served Beatrice for 50 years as they shopped and went about their business downtown.

Then in 1987, the stand closed down, leaving a hole in downtown Beatrice and in the hearts of popcorn eaters across Gage County.

But in 2014 an area nonprofit group known as Community Possibilities resurrected the stand with a newfound purpose. Community Possibilities allows local nonprofit groups to sell popcorn from the stand and keep 70 percent of the profits made. The stand was also able to donate $2,725 dollars to local charities.

Deb Fiedler, President of Community Possibilities, said that the idea for both the restoration project and the organization sprang out of a Facebook conversation she was having about preserving the history of Beatrice.

The group decided to build a replica stand and place it across the street from the stand’s original location. Fielder said that the re-creation took planning and perseverance.

“I’m one of those people that if you tell me no, I’ll prove you wrong,” she said.

The stand now sits on Fifth Street between Court and Ella streets as a quaint reminder of the rich history of Gage County.

Fiedler said no one from Community Possibilities eight-person volunteer staff profits from of the stand. She said anyone interested in volunteering for Community Possibilities can reach out to the organization, and they will be accepted and put to work.

“We’re a small group, but we have a lot of fun,” Fiedler said.

Community Possibilities Treasurer Cathie Menck said working in the stand is an incredibly rewarding experience.

“If you work it for a while you get people who stop here and remember the old popcorn stand,” Menck said. “It’s the nostalgia.”

Many nonprofits take turns running the stand. Several youth sports teams, Beatrice Community Players, several churches and other groups have all raised funds at the stand. A sandwich board next to the stand tells customers what group is working the stand at the time.

Region V and Mosaic, two groups that help developmentally disabled people, take up a large portion of the time in the stand. Traubel’s allows those people to have experiences that they may not have in a conventional business setting.

Mosaic staff member Athea Wiest said she helps client Amy Brott work the stand. Wiest said the experience is beneficial to Mosaic clients.

“It gives the clients a lot of interaction with the customers” Wiest said.

Brott said she enjoys making change, pumping butter onto the popcorn, and especially cleaning the stand.

The stand sells small bags of popcorn for $1, large bags for $2 and extra large bags for $3. Large sizes and tubs are available, as well as several seasoning salts including movie theatre butter and dill pickle, which Fielder said is a customer favorite.

The stand has also expanded into making flavored popcorn, with several rotating flavors used throughout the year. The caramel corn sold is popular, and Fielder said her favorite is the cinnamon flavor. Bags of flavored popcorn are sold for $4.

This May, the resurrected stand will be celebrating its fifth anniversary, and Community Possibilities is planning a celebration. Fielder said more information on the anniversary will be available in 2019. Community Possibilities is currently considering new ways in which they can serve Beatrice.

If locals would like to volunteer for the stand, they can view the Facebook pages for Traubel’s Popcorn and Community Possibilities, or reach out to Fielder at 402- 770- 7483.

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