Change in line at 4-H stand
The 4-H food stand will greet hundreds of visitors to the Leavenworth County Fair this year.
But those people stopping by for a refreshment, meal or snack probably don't understand the annual major undertaking it is to run the food stand.
It requires 12 Leavenworth County 4-H clubs to commit members for 17 shifts -- with roughly 20 people working at each shift -- during a five-day period.
Some members and their parents work multiple shifts during the week, but each day includes, on average, three shifts, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
"That's a lot of people," said Deborah Seetin, one of five members on this year's food stand committee. "4-H members, parents, we just take anyone who can help."
The food stand is an even bigger undertaking this year because the current committee is in its first year of overseeing the stand.
Longtime 4-H officials Donna Wiley and Joe Wood, who have organized the eatery for several years, decided to step away from their roles.
"They spent so many hours up there and so much time on it, and they just kind of are worn out," Seetin said.
Seetin is involved with the Mayginnis Hustlers 4-H Club. The other four new committee members are Dean Allen, Reno Bobwhites; Davis Scharinger, Happy Hollow; Brenda Schmalstig, Livewires; and Denise Sullivan, Boling.
Preparations for the stand started last fall and monthly meetings began in January, Seetin said. Of course, as the fair has gotten closer, the number of meetings has increased.
The food stand will have some new selections this year, including double bacon cheeseburgers, as well as breakfast sandwiches. Candy will be available for the first time, Seetin said, and the dessert selection now will include cookies and brownies to complement the food stand's mainstay -- pies.
Sullivan pointed out that the committee changed its sausage offerings, from links to patties, so that they also could be used for in breakfast sandwiches.
Sullivan also is the county extension director, as well as family and consumer sciences and nutrition agent.
"I kind of spin my hat around whether I'm going to be the food safety police or just a parent passionate about this product," Sullivan said with laugh. "I just kind of change roles I guess."
Regardless, Sullivan spoke highly about the food stand, as it's a great tool as far as gaining work experience for youths, especially when they apply for jobs outside of the 4-H world.
With her duties at the extension agency and the fair, it could be a long week for Sullivan. Fair week certainly takes a lot of commitment from its workers, according to Sullivan.
"Yeah, I'll probably be a little more tired this year, but oh well, what's new?" she said with a chuckle.
Speaking of long hours, Wiley estimated she's worked more than 3,500 hours during her time as committee leader for the fair stand.
Wiley has worked 35 years at the stand. She recently estimated that she worked roughly 110 hours during fair week each year.
Wiley will still be involved, working at breakfast time and when the Reno Bobwhites are staffing the stand, but she'll have a little more down time.
"I'll get to ask, 'What do you want me to do?'" Wiley said, chuckling.
The longtime 4-H contributor has been accustomed to spending much of her time during fair week at the fair stand.
"Sometimes I've missed a lot of my own kids' activities but people would come get me," Wiley said. "They'd come get me and I'd come over and watch (when her children, now grown, were in 4-H activities)."
She said she couldn't have worked the stand for so many years without the support of her four children, her husband, Francis, and sister-in-law June Hagenbuch.
Now Wiley should have more time to check out the fair sights with a new generation of family members.
"Well I hope so, I hope I'm able," Wiley said. "I've got three grandkids in 4-H. I hope to maybe see some of that."
The other longtime committee member, Joe Wood, is stepping down as well. Wood, who lives in rural Leavenworth, has worked with Wiley for 24 years at the stand.
Wiley said that the two worked well together. Wiley recalled that they never had a disagreement.
"No, not even close," Wood said with a laugh.
And, Wiley noted they have had good relationships with others involved with the stand.
"I think we have a good rapport with 4-H kids and members and families, and that's why I've enjoyed it so because I enjoy people," Wiley said.
Wood said he stepped down from the position because he said he "just felt like we needed to find some way to get some other people involved because we're not going to be involved forever."
Both, of course, still will offer assistance at the food stand but will not be overseeing the operation. It's something Wood said probably would take some getting used to.
"Sure, it will be quite a bit different," Wood said. "Whether we'll enjoy it after the experience, I don't know, but we'll find out here shortly."
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