ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Mitchell Exchange Club celebrates 50 years of existence

The state amateur baseball tournament is in full swing, but what keeps baseball goers coming back for more is not just the games, but the burgers and onions.

In the early 1990s, the Exchange Club poses for a photo at the annual Heart and Sole cancer walk. The club has been a Corporate Sponsor for the walk since it began in Mitchell. Photo courtesy of Audrey Stahl
In the early 1990s, the Exchange Club poses for a photo at the annual Heart and Sole cancer walk. The club has been a Corporate Sponsor for the walk since it began in Mitchell. Photo courtesy of Audrey Stahl

The state amateur baseball tournament is in full swing, but what keeps baseball goers coming back for more is not just the games, but the burgers and onions.

Or at least that's what the Exchange Club of Mitchell likes to think. Each year when the tournament is held at Mitchell's Cadwell Park, the club springs into action, operating all of the concessions for 12 days.

And the burger and onion combo is one of the most popular items on the menu. Lamoine Torgerson, who has been a club member for 30 years and a former president of the club, said people love the burgers and onions, and it keeps them coming back year after year for more.

"We tell everybody it's a recipe we just can't share with anybody," Torgerson said.

This year, the Mitchell Exchange Club is celebrating its 50th year of existence. The community-serving club is made up of more than 80 members this year, according to Audrey Stahl, a member for 23 years and current club president.

ADVERTISEMENT

Running the concession stands during the state tournament is the club's biggest fundraiser, Stahl said, one that has been going on for as long as both Stahl and Torgerson can remember.

But the club is much more than serving burgers and onions in concessions stands. The 50-year-old club is part of a national organization, promoting Americanism, community service and youth programs.

The club does this by putting on the Fourth of July fireworks each year, setting up the display of 500 flags on national holidays, and simply giving back to the community, Stahl said.

Most of the money that the club raises goes directly back into the Mitchell community. Stahl estimated that the club raises at least $25,000 annually.

According to Torgerson, the club's reputation around town is that if another organization needs help with something, they can contact the Mitchell Exchange Club.

"It really helps the community," Torgerson said. "And a lot of people don't realize that we put it right back into the community."

In the club's long history of serving the Mitchell community, Torgerson said there's been a lot of changes. He remembers a time when the club fundraised for both the rodeo and the state baseball tournament. It started out with the group just selling beverages, such as pop and beer, but at one point someone brought a grill to cook hamburgers and it took off from there, Torgerson said.

It's unclear exactly when the Mitchell Exchange Club started running the concession stands for the tournament, but Torgerson said he guesses it's been going on more than 30 years, before he even joined the group.

ADVERTISEMENT

The club no longer runs concessions at the rodeo, Torgerson said, but it still does concessions for the baseball tournament and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

But these are not the only changes in the past 50 years, Torgerson said recently, there have been more opportunities and other activities for members to get involved in.

Last year, the Exchange Club donated an American flag that is 30 feet by 50 feet to the Mitchell Fire Division to fly off of its truck for special occasions, Stahl said.

Another organization impacted by the Exchange Club is Second Chance High School. According to Shane Thill, director of Second Chance High, the Mitchell Exchange Club helps the school with the summer and credit recovery program by donating money each year. Thill estimates the program helps about 50 and 60 kids each summer by keeping the program alive with its donations.

The Exchange Club also provides Second Chance High with a scholarship called the Ace award and a deserving senior is chosen each year to receive it, Thill said.

"Without the Mitchell Exchange Club, it would be difficult to do some of the things we do," Thill said. "Their mission is to help kids and they are definitely doing that."

Thill said the club has a huge impact on not only Second Chance High, but the community too with club's volunteerism, mentorship and donations.

"We're excited to work with them and they've been a great resource in our community for at risk children," Thill said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Second Chance High is just one of many organizations that benefit from the club's donations. Stahl said it also donates to Safe House, LifeQuest and United Way, just to name a few.

But it all comes back to the the burgers and onions at Cadwell Park for the baseball tournament, where they raise the most money year after year.

In 2000, the club donated $15,000 to the Mitchell Parks and Recreation Department to help spruce up the stadium, including the addition of a new concession stand.

"I think we've had a huge impact on the community and we've given thousands of dollars ..." Stahl said. "We've done a lot of huge things and we've touched a lot of lives."

Even as a group that is dedicated to serve the community, members still find time to have some fun when they are working together.

"The camaraderie out there in the closeness of stadium, that's probably the big thing," Torgerson said.

Related Topics: CADWELL PARK
What To Read Next
"If we show we are complacent with areas like this that clearly need addressing, we’re not improving as a city,” Mitchell Republic Editor Luke Hagen said during the city council meeting discussion.
Discussion will take place during the 6 p.m. meeting on Monday at City Hall
Lawmakers have said it is likely only one is affordable at this time without cutting programs or adding other taxes or revenue streams
Members Only
Although Mitchell's rates would be increase, the proposed equitable rate structure could lessen the increased costs for residential customers' water and sewer bills.