Lydon, Habhegger to take Butterfest reins
Preparations for Sparta’s 35th Annual Butterfest have taken a giant leap forward as officials recently chose two individuals as its year long ambassadors. Edith Habhegger and Bob Lydon have been named 2019 Lady Butterfest and Festmaster.
It will be a year jam-packed with various events and appearances but Lydon, who replaces 2018 Festmaster Mike Arnold, says he is excited for the challenge.
“It took me totally by surprise. It took me a little while to wrap my brain around it,” Lydon said. “It was overwhelming at first but it’s going to be pretty fun and I’m excited about it.”
Lydon has lived in Sparta the majority of his life and he is looking forward to representing the community. “I love Sparta and every city has its bad points but overall if something ever happened to anybody in this town they rally like no other city I’ve ever seen rally behind somebody that needs help.”
He was born in Hales Corners before moving to Sparta as a kid in the 1970s; he graduated from Sparta High School in 1983 and shortly afterwards became an electrician.
He established Lydon Electric, which was later combined with Lydon Drywall to become Lydon Drywall & Electric, Inc., which he currently co-owns with his brother Bill.
Lydon and his wife Jenny have three children and one grandson. They are devoted members of Trinity Lutheran Church where Lydon served on the church council and still serves as a youth group leader.
Both Lydon and his wife enjoy volunteering at various organizations throughout the community. Most recently, they have been helping organize the upcoming Packers Tailgate Tour, which will take place on April 10.
Lydon has been the president of the Sparta Gridiron Booster Club for nearly 10 years and he plays an integral part in the organization’s annual fundraising.
He is or has been a middle school football coach, high school freshmen football coach and junior varsity and varsity football defensive line coach.
“The youth are our future. These kids need a lot of one-on-one attention and a place where they can talk to you about what’s going on in their life,” he said. “People don’t understand what those coaches do; it’s far beyond just coaching a sport. They are making young adults out of these kids.”
Lydon will officially become Festmaster on April 26 when he receives his green jacket at the Festmaster’s Ball in the presence of past Festmasters.
Habhegger found out she would take the place of 2018 Lady Butterfest Karen Edwards after she went to coffee with two past Ladies Butterfest, Cheryl Insensee and Amy Bernath, when they handed her a yellow rose and asked her to be the newest Lady Butterfest.
“I was so stunned and I couldn’t make the decision right away. Later that evening I told her I would, even though I don’t look good in yellow,” she joked. “It’s a good thing to be called a lady. When I was growing up you called every woman not by first names but you referred to them as a lady, it was a very respectful title.”
Habhegger grew up in Sparta when her family moved to the community from Cashton in 1956.
In her Sparta High School yearbook, under her graduation photo her peers referred to her as, “A lady, the most honorable degree of all,” which Habhegger jokes is nice at 72 but back then at age 18 sort of said a person was boring.
She moved to Milwaukee around 1970 but found herself wanting to come back home in 2007 when she saw her first Butterfest Parade. Shortly after moving back she married her husband Wally, whom she had attended high school with.
“I’m not sure what will be expected of me yet but I already know that I will always cherish the memories of it,” she said. “I think of Sparta as my hometown. I’ve always felt that Sparta was special.”
Habhegger volunteers the majority of her time to Mary Morrow’s Attic but she is also a member of the Morrow Home Auxiliary, the Sparta Women’s Group, Freedom Honor Flight Coulee Region and she has a team for the SACS annual rally, which she says is very dear to her heart.
She was also a member of the Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare Sparta Auxiliary before it disbanded after more than 50 years of community outreach.
“It’s amazing how every organization appears when there’s something needed. This town is an amazing town in terms of how people come together. People are willing to do what they can for someone else,” Habhegger said. “So many people are aware of what the town needs and how we can all be a part of that.”
Habhegger will also be officially named Lady Butterfest at the Festmaster’s Ball and will later attend a luncheon on May 8 alongside past Ladies Butterfest.
Both Habhegger and Lydon will serve as official ambassadors during Butterfest, June 6 through 9, and at many other celebrations throughout the county as well.