Root beer big hit at battlefield

Published 10:12 pm Thursday, April 22, 2010

Students spent the afternoon taking a step back in time. Schools brought students to visit the Battle of Selma location Thursday and more students will visit today.

Christopher Wilson and Dylon Pouncey, Morgan Academy students, spend the afternoon relishing in the history.

“Watching them shoot the cannons has been the most interesting to me,” Dylon said. “It’s all fun and excitement, for me.” Both Dylon and Christopher have attended the event in previous years. Christopher comes back for one reason: “Everything,” he said.

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Besides the cannons, students seem to be drawn to the glass bottles filled with homemade root beer or lemonade.

For more than 20 years, Patty Mertz has traveled from Kansas City, Mo., to bring barrels of her Little John’s homemade root beer and lemonade.

“It is all natural, and we do make it with cane sugar, and we make it all here,” Mertz said. “We try to get natural flavoring, but sometimes we can’t.”

In all shows beside Selma, root beer outsells her other beverages.

“This is the only show I do where lemonade rivals root beer,” Mertz said.

To keep up with the demand for both, she makes fresh batches of both items on site at her booth, using the same recipe she has for more than 20 years.

Each batch takes 45 minutes to make six gallons with flavoring, six pounds of sugar cane and about 15 pounds of dry ice. The dry ice mixes and cools the drink.

She also sells cherry fizz, lemon fizz, and lemon cherry fizz.

“That’s a challenge for me because I have four barrels of root beer and one barrel of lemonade,” Mertz said. “So, I’m not prepared for that kind of sales.”

Mertz travels to 12 historical events each year in Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and here.

The Battle of Selma re-enactments and festivities will continue through Sunday.