John Deere Classic –  the ‘perfect place for snacking’

Vendors do big business during tournament week

Ava Brinkman holds a Whitey’s Ice Cream treat during the John Deere Classic. Whitey’s was one of the vendors doing business at the tournament. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

The John Deere Classic will be remembered by many people for its great golf. But many will also remember the tournament for its chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, ice cream treats, drinks and many other tasty snacks. They will remember their eating experiences at the JDC.

During tournament week, dozens of vendors were on the course offering food, drinks and services to guests, golfers and their families. Some of the partner companies, such as Smart Lexus of Quad Cities provided vehicles to give rides to guests and golfers. Others, such as Chic-fil-A, provided thousands of chicken sandwiches to the 2,000-plus volunteers who helped make the tournament a success.

But most of the vendors at the JDC were at the tournament trying to do good business. For instance, Travelin’ Tom’s Coffee Truck  was at the tournament for the first time this year. On Saturday morning, July 6,  it was parked near the driving range, offering a variety of drinks. Employees in the truck said business was good with many customers ordering iced latte and frappe drinks.

However, most vendors at the JDC last week had a long history with the tournament. One of them was Whitey’s Ice Cream. It had several ice cream stands and tables located around the golf course during tournament week. As usual, business was good with the ice cream company offering up treats, such as chocolate malts, the root beer ace, cookies ‘n cream shakes, a cherry slush float called the cherry ace, and the popular John Deere Classic treat. (It is made with lemon custard and lime sherbert in a cup.)

“It’s been great. People from out of town always stop by for some Whitey’s. … They’re always in the mood for ice cream,” said Eli Denton, one of the Whitey’s  employees working at one of the JDC ice cream tables at the tournament.

Another Whitey’s employee – Simon Zimmerman of Moline, who was working at an ice cream booth near the 18th hole – was getting ready for the ice cream crowds shortly after he opened his table Friday morning. “I’m a golfer, so this is the best place to play and work. … It’s awesome being here at the 18th,” he added.

In addition to businesses, the week also included volunteers who looking to raise money for various groups and service organizations. Paul Hansen was one of those volunteers as he helped a crew sell alcoholic drinks to raise money for the Rock Island Music Association. The group’s JDC concession stand is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Rock Island-Milan School District band program.

Last year was a banner year for the group. IT raised more than $35,000 during JDC week. Mr. Hansen said he hopes this year will also be big, but it might not be a record-breaker like last year. “I would be thrilled if we could make $20,000 or $25,000 this year. This helps us so much,” he added.

On Friday morning, business was brisk at the music association’s stand. It was busy with people getting ready for a big day of golf with a drink to get them started. The best-selling drink of the morning? “It’s been a Bloody Mary day around here so far,” Mr. Hansen said.

Business was also good for another concession stand raising money for a local group. Shianne Grimm of Silvis was volunteering at a snack concession stand raising money for the Silvis Little League. Around lunch time on Friday, the stand was doing good business with the chicken sandwiches being one of the big sellers with the public.

“We’re doing great. … I think we’re located at the perfect place for snacking,” Mr. Grimm said.

She added that last year, the concession stand raised nearly $10,000 for the Silvis Little League. She hopes to do at least a little better this year.

Another concession stand was located near the driving range at TPC Deere Run. It was operated by volunteers raising money for The Arc of the Quad Cities Area. (That nonprofit group with headquarters in Rock Island works to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.)

On Saturday, the stand was selling a wide range of snacks and drinks.

“We’re always grateful for what we get. I would love for us to raise $10,000 this week, but I’m just grateful for what we can raise,” said Sue Gadient of East Moline, one of the volunteers at the concession stand.

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