Mrs. Gerry, founder of Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen, named this year’s Third of July Parade grand marshal

Published 2:02 pm Thursday, June 8, 2023

The Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce this week announced Gerry Vogt, founder of Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen, will be the grand marshal of the 2023 Third of July Parade in Albert Lea.

Gerry Vogt

Shari Sprague, executive director of the chamber, said in choosing the parade’s grand marshal, they consider a variety of factors such as a person’s contribution to the community, leadership and influence, representation of values, as well as historical or milestone celebrations.

“There are so many amazing individuals in this community that easily fall into those categories; however, Mrs. Gerry’s name shows up under each of them,” Sprague said.

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Aside from starting and growing a successful business, Vogt has served on several community boards, including as the first female chair of the board of directors for the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, Sprague said.

Many have benefited from her philanthropic efforts, and Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen is celebrating 50 years this year,” Sprague said. “What better time to recognize the woman behind it, who has done so much for our community. Mrs. Gerry Vogt is truly a community treasure, and we are honored to give her this recognition as a small token of our appreciation.”

Vogt said she was surprised to receive the recognition.

“I felt very honored, but I know there’s a lot of people out there that deserve that wonderful recognition,” she said. “It’s over the top a little for me.”

Vogt moved to Albert Lea when she was in seventh grade, attended St. Mary’s School at the site of what is now Thorne Crest Senior Living Community and graduated high school in 1963.

She married her husband, Jerry, in 1967, and she started her business with potato salad after three children in 1973.

Vogt said her mother and father were her first two employees, and her husband sold the product off of his Schweigert meat truck at the time.

The business started out of an 1,100-square-foot building on East Seventh Street in Albert Lea and moved to the Northaire Industrial Park four years later, where they built an 8,000-square-foot building.

She said they brought on other Schweigert drivers to establish the business, and pretty soon the grocery warehouses started calling and asking to put the product into the warehouses.

“That’s when the business really grew,” she said.

The company now supplies products throughout the United States, most dominantly in the Midwest, at both large and small grocery stores. It offers 120 different products, including pasta salads, coleslaws, salad kits, specialty salads and sides, according to its website.

“If somebody would look at starting in an 1,100-square-foot building, with your mom and dad your only employees, and then for it to grow to approximately 300 people and our plant now is 121,000 square feet — it’s overwhelming,” Vogt said.

Vogt officially retired three years ago from Mrs. Gerry’s but had a delayed retirement party last August because of the pandemic.

These days, she said she is involved mainly with family and catching up on some things in her home.

She and her husband also still own Wedgewood Cove Golf Club and are actively a part of the activities there.

She said over the years, she has enjoyed giving back to the community, and particularly helping people in need.

“We love to give,” Vogt said.