Volunteers Have Overseen Eggs at Mayor’s Breakfast for 30 Years
The eggs at the Mayor’s Breakfast have been cooked practically the same way for thirty years, almost as long as the event has been kicking off Dairyfest. Their signature taste is carefully guarded by two long-time volunteers, Neil Riedel and Ron Johnson, who call themselves the “Head Eggs.”
Always the first to arrive and the last ones to leave, they start setting up the ingredients and pans around 3 a.m. and get done cleaning up around 11 a.m. Together they supervise and approve each batch of eggs to ensure the taste is identical from start to finish.
“They’re quite the pair working together, and it just clicks,” said Debbie Bauer, MACCI Program Director. “They know exactly what needs to be done. They know how to troubleshoot if there’s a problem with the griddles. We’ve been very blessed to have them that long.”
In recognition of their dedicated volunteer work, the two were surprised with the honor of being named the “Eggstra-special” co-Parade Marshals at this year’s Dairyfest. Ever the humble pair, they never expected to be recognized.
“I was totally surprised and very appreciative of the recognition,” said Riedel. “I didn’t expect it. It’s just something we’ve been doing forever.”
“It’s unnecessary as far as I’m concerned,” Johnson said. “I don’t need the recognition, but it’s an honor.”
The pair took over the egg operation back when they noticed batches were being made differently depending on the shift. “We were finding the eggs we made at five were not the same as the omelets at ten because each guy had a different idea,” Riedel said. “So Ron and I decide that if we were going to keep doing this, we were going to do the full day.”
In the early days, the cooking utensils were rented from the state until it decided to discontinue the program. Riedel and Johnson formed a board to tour other dairy breakfasts to see their operation, then called the state to see if the pans could be purchased. Previously they were being rented every year for $500, and in a few short years, they would pay for themselves.
Since then, the eggs continued to be made based on the original state recipe with little variation until hash browns were added two years ago. Riedel and Johnson have overseen it all, only rarely missing a year.
Johnson has been helping set up the breakfast for 34 years, as long as he’s been working at Superior Gas Service, which donates the gas for the event. This year, he’s retiring as manager of the company in July and isn’t sure if this will be his last year volunteering at the breakfast, but has a trained replacement to ensure a smooth transition.
But this Friday, breakfast-goers can still spot the pair working hard at one of their favorite events of the weekend. “We always have fun,” said Johnson. “We run into so many different people and so many different personalities, cooking the eggs is the best part.”
It’s not all serious work – a smiley face might end up being drawn in one of the batches. “That speaks for what the event means, to put smiles on people’s faces,” said Riedel.
Spectators can spot the pair waving from a convertible when the parade starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 2. “I think it’s going to be the highlight of the Dairyfest experience for me, to get recognized for what we do,” he added.
View the full line-up for Dairyfest at this link.