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Fill-er up: Booya celebration a stirring success

Volunteer Nicholas Zellmer (left) ladles some stew into pots for Marvin Taylor (center) and Nick Kowalenko during the 64th annual Booya. The Newport Fire Department hosted the celebration July 9, 2017, at Fire Station 1. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 4
Karney Bushinger of Newport gets a pot of takeaway stew from retired Newport firefighter Nick Kowalenko at the 64th annual Booya. The Newport Fire Department hosted the celebration July 9, 2017, at Fire Station 1. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
Cadence Niesen-Grossmann, 3, obviously is pleased with the balloon she received from Jhemm, who is a member of the Hudson River Valley chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse. The bikers were on hand at the 64th annual Booya at Newport Fire Station 1. Cadence came to the July 9 event with her sister, Brooke Grossmann, 9, and her parents, Casey Niesen and James Grossmann and their dog Tiara. William Loeffler / RiverTown MultiMedia.3 / 4
Retired firefighter Len Louden stirs a pot of stew at the 64th annual Booya. The Newport Fire Department hosted the annual celebration July 9 at Fire Station 1. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

NEWPORT — The 64th annual Booya celebration brought hundreds to Newport Fire Station #1 for an afternoon of kids games, refreshments, bingo, raffle, hot dogs and beer (Id required, of course). But the star attraction at the July 9 cookout was the titular dish, that upper midwestern version of bouillabaisse.

The Newport Fire Department cooked up an ocean of booya, which had been simmering overnight. Throughout the afternoon, they ladled it out to a bucket brigade of customers who brought empty pots, plastic buckets, Tupperware, coolers and other containers.

The booya base was a tent where retired firefighter Len Louden and volunteer Nicholas Zellmer stirred the 70-gallon kettles of stew.

Karney Bushinger opted for the cajun variety. She said she was going to run home and freeze it, then return with a bigger pot for some regular booya.

"I've lived here since 1978," Bushinger said. "I've come up here every year since they had the Booya."

As a connoisseur, did she have a favorite booya vintage?

"Every year it's been a 10," she said.

Cadence Niesen-Grossmann, 3, and big sister Brooke Grossmann got temporary tattoos and balloons from Jhemm, a member of the Hudson River Valley chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse.

The event raised money for the Fireman's Relief Association, concluding a Booya weekend that included a parade the previous evening.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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