Spirit Lake News

Popcorn ball tradition lives on


Duane and Doris Poppen of Aberdeen were Christmas Day callers at the Cork Poppen’s. Cork and Illdena’s daughter and husband, Janice and Russ Stoebner of Sioux Falls, had a short visit with them on Dec. 27.

Jim and Dianne Larson hosted Christmas at their home Dec. 26, for their sons and families.

Briggs Michael Wienk, son of Brandon and Katie Wienk, was baptized last Sunday at the Spirit Lake Presbyterian Church with CRE Jerod Jordan officiating. Jessalyn Wienk was the sponsor. Following the service, a family gathering was held at the church with grandparents and great-grandmother in attendance.

Last Tuesday reminded us it is winter, with high winds and snow making travel difficult. Warmer weather with no snow is forecast in coming days.

Popcorn ball tradition

The tradition started on Dec. 19, 1997. A crew consisting of Cork and Illdena Poppen, Bernard and Lucille Larson, Alice Sprang, Pastor Greg Van Huekulem, Anne and Bjorn Aamot and Fred, Mabel and Glenn Hassebroeks began the procedure.

On a four-burner gas stove, Bernard and Cork used heavy pressure cooker kettles to pop the corn. Alice measured, and Illdena cooked the syrup.

After it was popped, it was placed on a table to sort out the old maids then put into a separator bowl to stir.

The group made 112 popcorn balls for the church — and more – for a total of 298, which were given to the helpers.

In 2014, the process moved to the church kitchen with Cork and Illdena and new helpers, Dianne Larson and Sheila Poppen. In 2015, the Poppens, along with Dianne, Daron, Derick and Brian Larson took over, using Dianne’s new large popcorn popper that removed the old maids. What a help!

Each year the tradition continues, with some years, the group making as many as 400 popcorn balls, 75-100 for the church and the rest divided by the helpers. Many church members have helped over the years. The Poppens are nearing retirement and hope the Larson family keeps the tradition going as a legacy to Bernard and Lucille Larson.


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