Eleva Broiler Festival
This year marks the 60th year of a strong tradition. The Eleva Broiler Festival dates back to May 17, 1947 when it was originally called the Tollefson Parade. The Tollefson family wanted to celebrate May 17 with a fun parade. This date in history is also a celebration of the Norway’s Constitution Day, or Syttende Mai.
From 1948 to 1959 the parade was known as the Tollefson and Semingson Parade. This rivalry became popular as each family competed to see who could create the best float.
In the mid 1950s Doughboy Industries, now Family Farms Market, came to Eleva and began dressing chickens. It wasn’t until 1959 that the name was changed to the Eleva Broiler Festival and the event was moved to the first weekend after Memorial Day. The Eleva Broiler Festival also crowned Penny Havenor as its first queen back in 1959 and has had a queen each year since then.
The Festival has drawn as many as 20,000 people to the Village, which has a population just under 700. Although today’s Festival is known for the mouth-watering chicken, live music, and carnival activities, the spirit of it’s simple beginnings still lives on in the Olde Timer’s Parade that follows the Grand Parade on Sunday afternoon.
Village of Eleva
The Village of Eleva (pronounced uh-lee-vah) was settled in the 1870’s after the first white settler, Mr. Joseph Dickinson Cooper, came to the area and homesteaded on what is now the Schultz’s Farm at the edge of the village limits. The Village was originally named Little Chicago. While there is still disagreement as to how the Village got it’s current name, most folks go with the story that the local grain elevator had the letters “ELEVA” painted on it before an early winter set in, forcing painting to stop. When settlers came to the area that year, they assumed that “ELEVA” was the name of the village, hence the name.
Eleva currently has a population of 685 residents and is located in the Northwest corner of Trempealeau County. Eleva is also home to the Buffalo River State Trail, which used to be the railroad of 1889. The trail is now used year-round for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, biking, horseback riding, and ATV riding.