'Sunday dinner' is served 8 days at 4-H/FFA fair Meals: A Union Bridge woman leads volunteers in preparing home-cooked food for hundreds of people.

July 27, 1998|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

In a kitchen at Carroll County Agriculture Center yesterday, Nona Schwarzbeck hollered orders like a general, commanding volunteers preparing fried chicken, side dishes, desserts and drinks for hungry crowds at the annual Carroll County 4-H/Future Farmers of America Fair.

Schwarzbeck, her husband, Joe, and a team of volunteers cook enough food to feed an army during the eight-day event, which started Thursday. Hundreds of 4-H youths and their parents, plus countless visitors, pass daily through the dining room at Burns Hall to get a home-cooked meal.

'The mornings are crazy'

"The mornings are crazy, then by midafternoon it settles down," she said. "It just takes so much time to make the sandwiches, cut the watermelon and cantaloupe, and all the other things."

About a dozen volunteers swarmed the kitchen yesterday morning, including youths from Cecil and Frederick counties, friends and her daughter-in-law.

As 11: 30 a.m. neared -- when the doors opened to hungry fair attendees -- volunteers arranged green beans, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, cole slaw, potato salad, gelatin, cucumber salad, fruit salad, chocolate and lemon meringue pie, brownies, sandwiches and a few other goodies on the counter.

As fair workers and youths swarmed into the dining hall, Schwarzbeck hurried to make the gravy, which had been overlooked in the confusion.

Blend of spices

"This is just like Thanksgiving -- everything's ready but the gravy," she said.

Like most of the food, the gravy was homemade from Schwarzbeck's recipe. The fried chicken recipe was her husband's. He uses a special blend of spices. It's known at the fair as Joe's Famous Fried Chicken.

"We don't serve much make-believe stuff here," Nona Schwarzbeck said. "It's all real."

She was born and raised on a farm and lives today on a Union Bridge farm. Schwarzbeck, 53, is used to "real" cooking and she's used to 4-H -- "been in the fair 30 years and the kitchen three years," she said.

With a ready sense of humor, Schwarzbeck appears the quintessential farm wife. She knows how to get what she needs and how to make the most of what she has.

A lot of this week's main dishes came from donations -- four hogs from Lease Brothers, hot dog and hamburger buns from Giant Food of Hanover, (Pa.), money for milk and butter from the Dairy Club and Holstein Club, and six 4-H capons, to name a few.

'We welcome donations'

Later in the week, Schwarzbeck will make use of the 4-H'ers' exhibits in her meals.

"We'll use the vegetables the next day after they come in for a vegetable medley -- we'll take the kids' vegetables and cook them up," she said.

Yesterday, tables were decorated with flowers from Schwarzbeck's garden, plus some zinnias from a 4-H grandfather. Later in the week, flowers the 4-H'ers exhibited will adorn the tables.

"I'm hoping to get some fresh corn donated later in the week," she said. "We welcome donations, especially fresh vegetables."

Yesterday, Schwarzbeck had corn from Baugher's in Westminster, which she called "OK, because it's early corn, but it's better in late August."

When the line of diners temporarily slowed, Schwarzbeck took a break to eat. As she finished, one couple she knew came in and she teased, "We're out of chicken, you waited too long."

The woman momentarily looked startled before realizing Schwarzbeck was joking. When Schwarzbeck asked a group of men "How is it, boys?" they nodded and one said, "Wonderful."

Peggy Soper, fair publicity chairwoman, noted that eating in Burns Hall during the fair "is just like going to Nona's for Sunday dinner. She tries to have something for everybody."

'A lot of flavor'

After the initial crowd of fair workers, the public began its trek to the dining hall.

Robert and Margaret Britt from Westminster ate chicken dinners.

"We're enjoying our meal," Margaret Britt said. "The chicken was done and tasty, the beans were good, they had a lot of flavor in them."

Like Schwarzbeck, Robert Britt wasn't impressed with the corn, but called the green beans delicious and the chicken and macaroni and cheese good.

The green beans, flavored with cured ham, were Schwarzbeck's favorite, too.

Anyone with food from their garden who would like to donate to the kitchen for this week's fair should call 410-848-FAIR.

Schedule of 4-H/FFA Fair

The Carroll County 4-H/FFA Fair continues through Saturday at the Carroll County Agriculture Center, on Smith Avenue extended in Westminster.

Below is a schedule of activities for today and tomorrow.

Parking and admission are free. Shuttle bus service is available from Westminster High School, 1225 Washington Road, from 5 p.m. to closing daily through Saturday.

For information, call 410-848-FAIR.


8 a.m. -- Indoor Exhibits open

8 a.m. -- English Horse Show

9 a.m.-2 p.m. -- Petting Barn open

9 a.m. -- Animals arriving on grounds

6 p.m.-9 p.m. -- Petting Barn open

6 p.m. -- Animal Dress-up Contest

7 p.m. -- Llama Show

7 p.m. -- Entertainment, Mule Pull

7: 30 p.m. -- Family Fun Contest

10 p.m. -- Fairgrounds close


8 a.m. -- Indoor Exhibits open

9 a.m. -- Bicycle Rodeo

9 a.m. -- Sheep Show

9 a.m.-noon -- Pre-arranged children's tours

11 a.m. -- Pet Smart Horse Hitch Demonstration

11: 30 a.m. -- 4-H Horse Drill Team Demonstration

Noon -- Canine Demonstration

12: 30 p.m. -- DARE

1 p.m. -- ATV Demonstration

2 p.m.-4 p.m. -- Pre-arranged children's tours

5 p.m. -- Market Lamb Show

6 p.m.-9 p.m. -- Petting Barn open

8 p.m. -- Entertainment, Dixie Chicks Concert (tickets required)

9 p.m. -- Indoor Exhibits close

10 p.m. -- Fairgrounds close

Pub Date: 7/27/98

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