The party calendar is pretty well spaced out over the course of an entire year. New Years, Valentines Day, St Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, the 4th of July, St Peter’s Festival, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wait….what…the St Peter’s Festival? Well if you ask former Kenoshan Ron “Reggie” Benhoff, the St Pete’s Festival is absolutely a holiday as important as any on the calendar. Truth is, no human being who resides in another part of the country, maintains such a steadfast love and close association with his hometown. Benhoff, proud to order from “the Senior menu” at Marina Gardens is a man of MANY words, but he was able to sum it up in just a very few citing, “this is home, I love this place”.
“Reg” has all of his family here. The north side Kenosha Benhoff group are a bunch that collectively know just about everyone there is to know in this city. And if that wasn’t enough, his wife Jackie comes from the Harry and Nancy Stoebe contingent so it literally only takes one or two degrees of separation for him to cross paths with essentially every Kenosha person that matters. And between the family visits, the Packer games and the stop-overs during his business travels, sits the St Peter’s Festival. The size and scope of the event mean far less to Ron than what they represent..just a Kenosha kid giving back to his church/school and an opportunity to somehow cram 17 days worth of partying in a 96 hour stay. And Reg has perfected the latter.
His sports ties to the community are legendary including being a member of “The Islanders”..a group that hung out at that one big house that sits on the south side of the road as you enter Simmons Island. The softball teams that are most associated with good old No 44 were My Brother’s Pub and Wisconsin Beer Gardens. Names like Kozel, Chambers, Tegel and Klappa were bantered about when discussing his time playing in the Golden Age of Softball. And Reg was a player in hoops as well standing as tall as 6’6″ back in the day…taking into account the size of the afro. And it was hoops that would lead to a nickname befitting of a Kenosha legend.
“The name actually comes from basketball”, explained Reggie when remembering a sports gear swap with a friend, “I traded my Kelly Tripuka shorts for a full blown, Chicago Bulls Reggie Theus warm-up including tear-away pants. I was originally called Theus but then it just ended up being Reggie”. Toss in a softball jersey #44 and his aforementioned “fro” paying homage to Reggie Jackson, and what you got is a nick-name that will remain in Kenosha sports history for as long as any of us are alive to appreciate the story. Reggie went on to explain that he has played softball and basketball in every state he has lived in since he moved from Kenosha. “Michigan, Washington state, Kentucky and Arizona, everywhere I have lived I was always playing sports”, said Benhoff, “as it was in Kenosha…softball, basketball, fast-pitch softball, hard ball as a kid”.
And that lifetime of great memories, both in KTown and elsewhere, all lead full circle back to the importance of his annual appearance at the St Peter’s Festival. He even goes so far as to have unique shirts printed for each occasion and has even brought in some Arizona money for the St Pete’s coffer. “I always sell books of raffle tickets to my guys in Arizona”, explained Benhoff, “but they started bitching that they never won anything and called me out for their lack of luck in winning”. In true Reg form, that criticism would not fall on deaf ears, “so I took my phone and I videoed the young lady dropping their tickets into the bucket”. All that means is there is a bunch of dudes in Arizona that also now know the importance of the St Pete’s Festival and the equal importance of knowing Reg Benhoff.
Ron “Reg” Benhoff is, once again, on our side of the country and for those of you that know him and are not on his party list of 80 people to hang out with in 3 and a half days, you can find him tapping beers at the festival that means so much to him from 4 til 7PM on Saturday, August 3rd. This man is a walking, talking Kenosha promotion with every breath he takes. He does not apologize for loving his hometown. He remembers EVERYTHING that happened back in the day. He is never too far away from his next trip to town. And he absolutely knows that all things being right in the world, he will be at the St Peter’s Festival every year. Everyone could take a lesson from Reggie..it is truly a blessing to never forget where you came from. He absolutely is, as I have his contact info in my phone…”The Reg Stops Here”.