Fun at the state fair: Farm Bureau’s food stand keeps dishing it out

HARRINGTON — Temperatures dropped and sales rose.

Both trends were welcome shifts at the Delaware State Fair on Tuesday.

That was the preferred business plan for the Delaware Farm Bureau’s food stand.

“Business is a little down from last year so we’re hoping it will pick up with the weather change,” said Farm Bureau Vice President Laura Hill, who oversees operations with Jan Cartanza. “No one wants to come out on this asphalt with all the heat radiating off the metal buildings.”

Early indications were promising considering a line of customers that formed at around 10:30 a.m., along with several tables filled with hungry consumers.

Barbara Sapp at the Delaware Farm Bureau food stand at the Delaware State Fair. (Delaware State News Photo/Marc Clery)

On a good day, 200 to 250 hamburgers, among other offerings, were expected to be chowed down in a 13-hour stretch from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“With the first couple days it felt like we had worked five or six,” Ms. Hill said.

This year’s new offering went over well in its debut — the “Barnyard Burger” with cheese, bacon and an egg on top came with french fries, a milkshake or large soda, all for $10.

First mixed by Camden’s Ed Williams in the 1960s, the homemade milkshake was described as “famous” by longtime food stand contributor Barbara Sapp of Milton.

“When you go to other states you hear people talk about it and say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been there,’” Mrs. Sapp said.

Sitting at a picnic table next to the Farm Bureau’s building, Mrs. Sapp, 81, and husband Rich, 78, reminisced all the way back to nearly 50 years ago. That’s when their Young Farmers and Ranchers cheesesteak and french fries food stand partnered with the Farm Bureau and its submarine sandwiches and hot dogs in about 1968.

From left, Dominic Cintorino, Laura Hill and Pete Olson cook at the Delaware Farm Bureau food stand at the Delaware State Fair . (Delaware State News Photo/Marc Clery)

Choking up briefly, Mrs. Sapp mentioned “Mrs. Winkler, Mrs. Wheatley, Mrs. Williams” joining her as leading the food stand roughly a half century ago.

“They’re all gone now,” she lamented. “They’ve all passed on but you learn a lot from all then.”

It hasn’t gotten easier to find volunteers for the booth, either.

“It’s harder to get volunteers, which is the way it is with all organizations, ” Ms. Sapp said. “It’s the younger generation — they’re so busy. Back then wives stayed at home and didn’t work outside the farm, and had more time to give.”

Autumn Piazza runs with her lamb as Brena McDermott chases them at the Delaware State Fair on Tuesday. (Delaware State News Photo/Marc Clery)

The new generation

Thankfully, a new generation has arrived eager and ready to work. Several Future Farmers of America and 4-H youth groups from Kent, Sussex and New Castle counties were scheduled to work up to eight-hour shifts throughout the day.

Youthful volunteers from Lake Forest, Laurel, Lewes, Sussex Central, Dover, Houston, Seaford, and Milford, among other spots, signed up to assist.

DEStateFairTue1-MCleryDaina Meyer, 16, during the Sheep Showmanship competition at the Delaware State Fair on Tuesday. Delaware State News Photo/Marc Clery

Cape Henlopen FFA President Cassidy Best returned to the food stand for a second year with no complaints.

“Everyone is willing to help and you don’t have to be afraid to ask questions,” Ms. Best said. “It’s like a family and everyone is willing to drop everything and help you if it’s needed.”

Joining her for the first time was Cape FFA Historian Amanda Fluharty, who could deal with sweat underneath her gloves while preparing orders Tuesday.

“I’d heard it was great to work here and so far it has been,” she said, smiling to confirm her remarks’ validity.

Aubrey Fritschly, 5, of Berlin Md. checks out a Monarch butterfly at the Butterfly Exhibit at the Delaware State Fair on Tuesday. (Delaware State News Photo/Marc Clery)

All the youths had opportunity to join Delaware’s agriculture community now and perhaps establish personal ties for their future, according to Cape FFA advisor Heather Valentine.

“Being here makes connections for students to agriculture work and with community leaders in the same field,” she said during a short break.

The help was much appreciated and groups taking part received $500 each from the Farm Bureau for their volunteer efforts.

“I think for the most part they have really have a lot of fun and are eager to learn,” Ms. Hill said. “A lot of it is connected to food safety and health concerns, doing not what they do at home.”

Displayed prominently on a food stand wall were local and state Farm Bureau scholarship winners:

• Summer Thomas and Carl Ramsey, $2,500 each from the state women’s committee

• Wilbur Wright III, Ryan Harris, Lena Berry and Griffin McCormick, $1,000 each from the New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties women’s bureaus, and Kent County Farm Bureau.

• Abigail Hudson, $500 from the Sussex County Farm Bureau.

Mr. Sapp, raised as a Harrington farm kid, who raised Lima bean legumes, along peas and other vegetables, hoped that the varied crowd from the suburbs and urban areas would maybe learn more about what they eat during their state fair stay.

“We try to educate the public since so many people don’t see livestock like pigs, sheep or goats up close,” he said. “It’s educational for children who don’t know the process and just get their food from the store. It’s quite a long process of raising the animals to getting them on the shelf.”

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