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Perham family feeds the masses at WE Fest VIP tent

When it comes to feeding the masses of WE Fest VIPs, no one knows how it's done better than the Huebsch family.

Sue Huebsch, of Perham, manager of VIP hospitality, and her team serve five meals during WE Fest. Their lunches are served from noon to 2 p.m., with about 2,600 people eating, and their dinners are from 4 to 8 p.m. with a little over 5,000 people to be served.

The first year that Huebsch worked VIP catering, they served about 900 people.

"Through the years, it's grown," she said.

The VIP catering is a family affair, and the Huebsch's have been at it for the past 23 years.

"It's a family management team," Huebsch said. Her husband's sisters, nieces and nephews all help with the work.

"They've sort of grown up working here," Huebsch said.

The Huebsch's also have a lot of non-family members who work on their catering crew, many of whom have been part of the team for all 23 years.

"I'm grateful for the team," Huebsch said. "It takes a whole bunch of us to serve this crowd." They have about 250 workers total for VIP catering.

The workers help with serving, food preparation, cleaning and taking tickets.

One of these workers is 10-year-old Ryan Murphy, who started working VIP catering because his brother is friends with the Huebsch family, and also works catering. This was Murphy's second year working there.

"I help with hole punching, and restock food," Murphy said.

He said he and the other workers have a lot of fun while serving the food. Sometimes, for a laugh, they write a different name on their nametag, Murphy said. Last year Murphy's nametag said "Little Mario" for one of the meals.

"Everyone will think you're serious," he said with a smile.

Having fun is highly encouraged, said Huebsch's husband, Doug.

"Our philosophy is that if we're not having fun, the crowd won't have fun," he said.

The people they serve seem to enjoy it.

"They know it's a picnic, not a five-star restaurant, but they're into it," Doug Huebsch said.

The VIP guests are often sponsors, Sue Huebsch said.

"We want to show WE Fest appreciation to them," she said.

Sometimes, some of the non-headlining performers will also come through the food line, "incognito," Sue said.

"The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has come through," she said, "and wearing sunglasses, baseball caps, shorts and T-shirts, nobody knows it's them."

Along with having fun and meeting country stars, serving VIP catering does have its challenges.

"Weather is the biggest challenge," Sue said. However, the WE Fest staff in the communications trailer keep the Huebsch's informed on incoming rain and wind, so they can make accommodations.

Some may assume that the big number of VIPs that have to be served is another challenge, but Sue Huebsch said it's never a problem.

"We've got a good team," she said.