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Once Strike-Torn Town Reunites For Spam Celebration With AM-July Fourth Rdp

July 4, 1987

AUSTIN, Minn. (AP) _ Ten months after the bitter Hormel meatpackers’ strike ended, residents celebrated the 50th anniversary of Hormel’s Spam luncheon meat in a Fourth of July festival aimed at reuniting the town.

″I think everybody’s pulling together,″ said Sally Nemitz, an Austin native whose husband is a foreman for Geo. A. Hormel & Co. in Ottumwa, Iowa.

″After the strike, I think it’s showing the town can come back and be just as great as it always was,″ she said.

However, some objected to dedicating the Independence Day celebration to Spam, a canned luncheon meat that the Austin-based company first produced in 1937. Although a year-long strike against Hormel’s Austin plant ended in September, hundreds of strikers have not been recalled to work.

″When you take the Fourth of July and make it Spam Days, that’s ridiculous,″ said Butch Thompson, a Hormel employee wearing a ″Scab City U.S.A.″ T-shirt.

Hundreds of people lined the streets to watch and cheer the town parade, which included the Mower County pork princess, the Hopkins raspberry princess and the new Miss Minnesota, Katherine Killen of Owatonna.

When a small group carrying anti-Hormel signs left, the crowd applauded.

″I think people are trying to get the town going again. You can only be negative so much,′ said George Pulchinski of Austin, who watched the parade with his family.

Other weekend events included a ″Spam-o-rama″ cookoff, a ″Salute to Spam″ airshow and a fireworks finale in the shape of a Spam can.

The Hormel company allowed use of the word ″Spam″ for the festival and donated a giant ″50″ made of Spam cans, but the celebration was sponsored by the Austin Convention-Visitors Bureau.

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