A spring campus tradition from 1974 to 2002, Butch’s Bologna Bash was a fundraiser for the UW’s Department of Athletics and, specifically, its football program. The founder was Palmer Strickler x’46 — nicknamed Butch because his father was a butcher who was known for the sausages he produced.
Strickler played football for the Badgers in 1940, before leaving campus to fight in World War II, and basketball in 1946, after the war. He’s been involved with the National W Club (an organization of UW letter winners) ever since.
In the 1970s, he decided to start raising funds for the football team. What we mark as the first Bologna Bash — the ’74 event — collected $40. The event’s name came from the notion that those four sawbucks would pay for bologna and cheese at a supper club.
But the event grew, and in time it attracted thousands of people. They would gather at the Wisconsin Field House for beer and brats (not bologna) and then support the Badgers in their spring football game. During its 29 years, the bash raised more than $3 million.
In time, however, the Bologna Bash lost popularity, and its association with drinking troubled some campus leaders. For several years, Strickler hosted a golf outing as an alternative fundraiser, but in 2006, this, too, came to an end.