All-Around Performers: SPAM® & Showmobile®
How is Hormel’s SPAM® like Wenger’s Showmobile® mobile stage? Both are iconic, flexible performers that deliver satisfaction. From the outside, each features a distinctive, rectangular shape that opens up to numerous possibilities! If you’re hungry for more comparisons, dig into this week’s blog!
Our appetite was whetted by our recent discussion with Kim Underwood, Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry in Austin, Minnesota, the corporate headquarters of Hormel Foods. Austin (population 25,000) purchased its Showmobile in 2005, thanks to a generous grant from the Hormel Foundation. This week Underwood is attending the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) annual conference in St. Louis, Missouri.
Whether for meal time or event programming, both SPAM and Showmobiles offer outstanding versatility, mobility and value.
Versatility. Officially introduced in 79 years ago, SPAM® today includes 15 different varieties that inspire numerous recipes – for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. Anytime you’re hungry is a good time for SPAM®!
Communities craving a flexible mobile performance stage have looked to Wenger for over 60 years. Its first “Bandwagon” model was built in the 1950s as an alternative to a community band shell. The Showmobile brand debuted in 1961, offering an all-in-one performance center for event versatility: concerts, plays, ceremonies, cultural events, fundraisers and more.
In Austin, the Showmobile anchors six annual events, including spring street dance, 4th of July celebration and ArtWorks Festival. During the Mower County Fair, the Showmobile revels in the beer garden, where it elevates numerous bands. It’s also been used as a judging platform for parades.
“Our Showmobile serves a number of community groups that want to hold events – it’s awesome!” comments Underwood. “For our largest event, we use it at the same park that has a traditional band shell.”
Mobility. SPAM® is a magnificently mobile meat. During World War II, SPAM® achieved fame for feeding Allied soldiers on the battlefield – requiring no refrigeration and traveling almost anywhere.
Rather than being tied to a stationary band shell or amphitheater, a Showmobile can easily create events at different sites. And those locations later return to normal once the Showmobile is closed up and towed away.
For Austin, the Showmobile offers venue options even during a single event. “It’s like a curtain change in the theatre,” Underwood explains.
The Showmobile’s mobility also helps showcase different aspects of the community, such as the downtown business district during a street dance.
“Communities want to make sure their downtown is a productive, go-to place that attracts people,” says Underwood. One of downtown Austin’s attractions is a brand new SPAM Museum that opened this year. (Its website advises: Please don’t eat the exhibits!)
Value. In its first iteration, during the Great Depression, Hormel’s canned meat was developed as an economical meal option for struggling families. Only in 1937 was it christened SPAM®.
While a Showmobile is a major purchase, it’s also a wise investment when considering the cost of building and maintaining a fixed-location venue. Communities also recognize time- and labor-savings compared to erecting stick-built platforms or manipulating heavy, cumbersome platforms. Renting out the Showmobile can generate income that helps offset its purchase price and operating costs.
“Without our Showmobile, we’d likely often be looking for a stage or trying to rent one from another community,” comments Underwood. “I know stages are hard to find because I frequently get calls looking for them.” She says that jury-rigging a handmade stage for events wouldn’t be much fun.
Including travel time, their Showmobile can be ready for any local event in only 90 minutes. “Our Showmobile is eye-catching,” concludes Underwood. “It attracts attention and helps people realize something exciting is happening.”