Newport booya still hot after 62 years
Only at the 62nd-annual booya, hosted by the Newport Fire Department, do people from around south Washington County eat bowlfuls of scorching hot stew on a muggy July afternoon.
Hundreds packed Newport's fire hall No. 1 Sunday to eat from the famous booya caldrons, play bingo with the St. Paul Park-Newport Lions, mingle with family and friends and raise money for the department’s Firemens Relief Association.
"People are saying this is the best booya yet," said Newport fire Cpt. Matt Aune, who is also the president of the association. "Everyone's really excited about it."
Four 60-gallon kettles and one 70-gallon kettle — regular and cajun flavors — boiled for hours prior to the start of the Sunday feast, and Assistant Fire Chief Tom Ingemann said the stock of booya was nearly depleted two hours into to the event.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” he said. “And the weather is cooperating, so that helps.”
Throughout the afternoon, Newport firefighters Jon Anderson and Steve Cozad gave live demonstrations of a grease fire and taught kids fire safety tips. Volunteer firefighters, both past and present, and family members ran carnival games, food booths and a beer garden.
Julie Johnson, whose son is Newport firefighter Jeff Lovegren, said the booya celebration served as an impromptu family get-together.
“It’s not often that all of us are in the same place at the same time,” she said. “It’s great when we’re all together.”
The booya rakes in thousands of dollars for the Newport Firemens Relief Association, and Aune said it’s an opportunity for the firefighters to be involved with the community.
“This is a great community event that brings everyone from the area all together,” he said. “And we enjoy it, and we know the people enjoy it, too.”