Backed by towns, Chatfield, Grand Meadow head to state
Two southeastern Minnesota communities are buying T-shirts and sweatshirts, not for Christmas presents, but for the big game.
On Friday, Chatfield High School and Grand Meadow High School will play for state football titles and hundreds of local residents will be in the stands cheering on the hometown boys in school colors.
At 1 p.m. on Friday, Chatfield will play Minneota for the Class AA State title at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Chatfield school secretary Terri Dudek said after adding another bus on Wednesday morning, 10 buses are going up to the game. Most of the fans will be wearing Chatfield maroon.
Lisa Vaupel, owner of Threads in Chatfield, said sales of her Chatfield Gophers clothing have skyrocketed. She custom-made section title shirts after the Gophers won the Section 1AA title over Caledonia on Nov. 1. She expected to sell 350 shirts, but close to 700 people ordered the championship attire. It was Chatfield's first section title in 14 years.
"It's been fantastic," said Vaupel, who will close her store on Friday to attend the title game. "It's not just Chatfield people who are coming in and buying clothes. It's their extended families, who are traveling up to the game and want to have anything maroon or Gophers on. ... We can't keep up with the sizes. We're just offering anything we have to people."
On Wednesday, Angela Clemens was at Threads with a handful of Chatfield Gophers wear, both for Christmas presents and the big game. She will head up on Friday to see her nephews Adam Clemens and Logan Karver play in the title game.
While many Chatfield businesses will be closed, some will stay open. Jeff Hotopp, owner of Old Tyme Cafe and Catering, said he is staying open. He also was open on Nov. 16 when Chatfield played its semifinal game at the dome, and Hotopp said business was steady.
In Grand Meadow, Superlarks' attire is hard to find. Jeremy Glynn, owner of Glynn's Motormart, said he's running out of inventory.
"We're kind of sold out of everything," Glynn said. "We have run out of everything. What's left is what's left. People are always looking for things to wear."
Glynn said he will close his gas station from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Other Grand Meadow businesses, including The Diner, also will be closed on Friday.
"I don't think there will be anybody left in town," Glynn said.
Longtime Grand Meadow resident Dick Steinhorst is heading up on one of four chartered buses going to the game. While he does not have any relatives on the team, he does know the boys.
"I know the kids," Steinhorst said. "In a town like this, you know them all."
While Chatfield has three state football titles (1994-96), Grand Meadow still is looking for its first championship. The Superlarks have made five trips to state with runner-up finishes in 1987 and 2012. Grand Meadow will play at 10 a.m. Friday against Underwood for the school's first championship trophy.
"They have had a lot of good teams through the years, but they have just never been able to win the state title," said resident Barb Kirscher, whose son played on the 1987 team.