His town was small and getting smaller in 1951 when George Obermeyer, a Lutheran pastor, came up with an idea to keep Carleton, Neb., on the map.
Carleton farmers were the first in Nebraska to grow milo as livestock feed. So Obermeyer organized the Carleton Community Club to plan what would become an annual Milo Day celebration.
"The rural population was declining and people felt there was nothing to be proud about," his daughter, Trudy Obermeyer Hutton, recalled. "This was my father's attempt to draw the community together. This idea gave them something to be proud about."
|Marion VanCleef and John Lange make milo pancakes for Milo Day in Carleton, Neb., a community celebration begun 60 years ago by a Lutheran pastor.|
As a gimmick to bring people to Milo Day, the ladies of Zion Lutheran Church created the first recipe for milo pancake batter. Carleton's three other churches joined the Community Club's effort. "But the pancake recipe was kept secret for years," said Rosalie Lange, whose mother-in-law Dorothy Lange was one of the three who created the recipe. "Nobody had it but the Lutherans."
The population of Carleton has fallen from 350 to 80 since Obermeyer had his idea for milo pancakes. But each September, Milo Day is huge for families in Thayer and Fillmore counties, and it keeps Carleton on the map — at least for south-central Nebraska.
Bands from a half-dozen towns march in the Milo Day parade at the start of each school year. Candidates from each town compete to be crowned Milo Queen. And everyone eats milo pancakes.
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