Carla Thomas has been the food stand manager for the operation for the last 12 years. She said a month and a half of preparation time is required before fair week, part of which includes securing more than 300 pounds of beef.
“All for one big week a year,” Thomas said. “It’s a big challenge to order this much food and not run out.”
The work makes for a good bonding experience, several of the members said.
“It’s fun when our club gets together in there,” Paschen said. “We really have a good time. We’ve done so much together just having our meetings and getting stuff ready for our crafts shows and doing community service projects we all do together. We’re all pretty close friends.”
Susan Phillipy, a former president of the association, remarked on the bonding created by the experience amid the sizzling of the grill in the kitchen Tuesday.
“If you didn’t have that, you wouldn’t have this organization,” she said, adding that each member knows different things and can help others learn them.
Those who lined up outside of the kitchen’s windows and collected on the picnic tables in the shelter just outside seemed to be a sign many fairgoers appreciated the association’s efforts.
Amber Lybrook, who grew up in Cass County and now resides in New York, visited the fair this year to watch her father compete in swine events. She picked up a chicken sandwich made by the Homemakers at lunchtime Tuesday.
“I’ve never gotten chicken at a fair before, but it’s really good,” she said, going on to praise the variety at the food stand.
Membership at the association in Cass County has dwindled in recent years, several members said. There are currently about 200 in the association within its 11 clubs. There used to be a time when clubs would have 40 members, while now many have six to eight.