Ox Roast is 105-year Scottville tradition.

September 17, 2015
From left: Bruce Krieger, Ben Nelson and Jerry Cole.

From left: Bruce Krieger, Ben Nelson and Jerry Cole.

MCP Living History series is sponsored by Cole’s Antique Villa, 120 N. Main St., Scottville, 231-936-1123, colesantiquesvilla.com.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

SCOTTVILLE — The Scottville Ox Roast, which takes place tonight, is an event that exemplifies how people feel about this small town in the center of Mason County: Tradition. Pride. Modesty.

The ox roast is Scottville’s oldest traditional event, dating back to 1910 when the community decided to celebrate its first paved streets.

scottville ox roast 1910

The first ox roast in 1910.

Today, a small group of people, led by Marcy Spencer, quietly continue that 105-year-old tradition. The volunteers know what needs to be done and they do it with little need for fanfare or recognition.

It starts Tuesday morning before the Harvest Festival. Jack Mickevich, Jack Mickevich Jr., Albert Everette and Mike Boyd arrive and build the brick stove on the west side of the Scotville mall. The stove is built around a pan that was fabricated many years ago specifically for the annual ox roast.

Around noon on Wednesday the fire is lit up, Spencer explains. Ben Nelson shows up and starts boiling water and adding the spices. Eventually the 310 pounds of chuck roast are added. The beef is cooked over the wooden fire for about seven hours. Around 8 p.m. Wednesday the beef is taken off the fire and moved to the North Country Cafe where it is cut up.

Helping with the cooking, besides Marcy and Ben are Sally and Jerry Cole, Bruce Krieger and Larry Graham (our apologies if we missed someone).

Thursday morning the gravy gets cooked on the stove and eventually the beef is added.

Later in the day, more volunteers arrive and start to set up tables.

At 6 p.m. dinner is served and is usually done within 45 minutes.

This is Marcy’s 10th year to be in charge of the ox roast. Before that, her father, Clayton Spencer, was in charge.

“I’ve been involved with the ox roast for a long time,” she says. “When I was a kid my dad would help with the ox roast and my mother, Carol, would lead up the queen competition. When I became an adult I continued to help my dad.”

“This is what people do here, they help each other out,” Spencer, who also serves as a city commissioner, says when asked why she is involved. “It’s important to be active in this town. That’s how we will survive as a community. That’s what keeps our town alive.”

Marcy says she appreciates all the help from the volunteers.

“It’s amazing that people just show up and help. They don’t ask for credit and they do this strictly because they love this town.”

“I grew up in this town and now live just outside of Scottville,” Larry Graham said. “This is what we do here. We take pride in our town.”