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Storytelling: Nick Vorpagel, Lake Geneva County Meats [Part One]

Updated: Feb 26

(1/3) “My family has been in Walworth County since the 19th century. Both sides of my family settled from Ireland and Germany to Walworth County in the 1860’s. My mom's dad is John Leahy. He learned how to cut meat at the Apple General Store in Lyons and then ended up cutting for Sentry in Columbus, Wisconsin. He missed the Lake Geneva area. His father was Sydney Smith's estate caretaker, so my grandfather was born on the Sydney Smith estate.

After being away, he wanted to come back. So, in 1965, he started in the meat business when he took over an established business in the City of Lake Geneva. It was called Host Brothers Packing and it was in a barn near what is currently the Cheese Box. After about 18 months in the original location, they were outpacing what they could handle in the barn. The business moved out to the current location in 1967. We've been here ever since. This is seven generations of my family that have been here and we love it.

Originally, I wanted to work in public policy. I really enjoy doing things that can impact people's lives, hopefully for better. I have a political science degree and I went to law school where I planned to get my law degree. I hated law school. It just was not my thing. I was there in 2008, which was the largest class of incoming potential lawyers ever. It was also a global financial crisis. I was working harder than I had ever worked, more money that I could plan to make, and I was miserable. I said, ‘This is stupid’ and I voluntarily withdrew.

I had always helped with the business growing up. There’s always something that needs to be done. My parents added a huge addition in 2008. And we went from a fairly small butcher shop to a fairly large butcher shop pretty rapidly. I had all of these projects here. I figured, I can finish up these projects and go find a different job. Fifteen years later, and I still think, ‘Maybe I'll finish up one more project and go find another job.’ But, I love it. I love it here. I love the pride of family business. I love feeding people.”

- Nick Vorpagel - Lake Geneva Country Meats

Parts 2 & 3 coming soon. Check out their page for more details on their two events this weekend.

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