Fair food operations runby local school boostergroups and the FFA area large part of the groups' fund-raising efforts.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Uniforms, hats, baseballs and bats, field trips and tubas are just a few of the things three booster groups at the Columbiana County Fair will fund in the coming school year with proceeds from their food stands.
Fair fixtures for many years, the food stands operated by West Branch Athletic Boosters, United Band Boosters and a consortium of county Future Farmers of America alumni are among the groups' top annual fund-raisers.
Boosters flip thousands of pancakes and hamburgers throughout the week to support band and athletic programs.
On the midway, the West Branch Athletic Boosters serve breakfast, sandwiches, sides and desserts, a daily dinner special, and The Warrior Burger, a double cheeseburger with all the trimmings.
The boosters put money toward every athletic program at West Branch, said Katie Meissner of Salem. Meissner's daughter graduated from West Branch in 1987. Mrs. Meissner worked the fair food stand then, and is now working on behalf of her grandchildren.
Cross country coach Kevin Buckley scheduled his runners to work several shifts during the week and worked alongside them Wednesday.
"The parents come in and a lot of times bring their kids with them to work, but Coach Buckley is one of the first to commit his athletes," said booster Kathy Knoch of Salem.
Lots of preparation: The boosters spend about three months preparing for the fair, she said. The week is the second-largest fund-raiser for the group behind weekly bingo, she said.
Volunteers work two shifts daily -- 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 3 to 11 p.m. -- with 12 people working each shift, Knoch said. "It's a good place to eat and people like it because they can come in and sit down," she said.
Near the livestock barns is the Eagles Nest, operated by United Band Boosters. Band parents and pupils open the stand at 6 a.m., serving breakfast to dairy exhibitors before and after milking.
The United boosters have had a food stand at the fairgrounds for more than 30 years, and they built the Eagles Nest pavilion in 1978.
Until three years ago, it was staffed by athletic boosters and band boosters, then the band boosters took over total operation, said booster Janet Duvall.
She worked the stand when she was a United High School student in the 1970s. She said pancakes, hash browns,biscuits with sausage gravy, and dinner specials such as creamed chicken on biscuit and Swiss steak are among the most popular menu items.
"This is a little bit more work than our football concessions," said Renee Craig. "We use the proceeds for uniforms, instruments and trips. This year we had our big four-year trip and went to Chicago."
FFA operation: The FFA food pavilion near the junior fair has been in operation nine years, but the FFA had a food presence at the fair many years before that, said Jamie Glavan, Minerva FFA adviser.
"It used to just be a trailer down by the livestock barns," he said.
Alumni, advisers and FFA pupils from Minerva, United, Beaver and Columbiana County Career Center staff the booth during the fair, said Darrel Bevelhymer, career center equine management instructor.
Anyone who lives in Columbiana County and who was in FFA anywhere can be a member of the FFA alumni, Bevelhymer said.
FFA students work with advisers to operate the booth, serving a variety of food, he said. Roast beef and hot sausage sandwiches are among fairgoers' favorites, he said.
Staffing the food stand, pupils learn food production, marketing, inventory control, money handling, customer relations, time management and personal development skills, Bevelhymer said.
Glavan said the alumni provided $2,700 in scholarships to FFA members this year through fair proceeds.
"Sometimes we even get siblings and parents of alumni to help, and they aren't alumni themselves. It's nice when people like that help when they don't have to," Glavan added.