HAVFCO Auxiliary, Co. Members Slice, Dice, Roast And Mash For Folk Festival
This is the weekend that Fulton County throws open its gates to welcome thousands to enjoy our beautiful fall foliage as well as our hospitality. Although visitors and natives alike will be able to enjoy food from one end of the county to the other, no organization makes as much food as the Hustontown Area Volunteer Fire Co. auxiliary members and firemen. A look at their planned menu excites the taste buds, but a closer look at their inside operation staggers the mind.
At last count, there will be five opportunities to eat at the firehall and all of the food and all of the service will be provided by less than 25 hardworking volunteers. And that's a lot, according to Shirley Tice, auxiliary president. Most of the company's more than 50 banquets served each year are done by 10-12 people. However, the Folk Festival is an "all hands on deck" event because of its magnitude.
And speaking of magnitude, the five dining opportunities include: a roast beef dinner on Friday evening beginning at 5:00 p.m. with all the usual trimmings, including mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn and desserts; with barely enough time to wash the dishes (A job they seem to relegate to the men!), on Saturday at 11:00 a.m., they will offer homemade slippery potpie. No one will be disappointed because the choices will include beef, chicken and ham potpie with pepper slaw and homemade bread with apple butter. Fire company member Morris Crouse is in charge of the potpie and his wife, Charlotte, shared this secret - the potpie dough is made with eggs, mashed potatoes, flour and water - somewhat of a variation on the usual recipe. But, "that's what makes it so fluffy," Charlotte says. Don't wait until too late on Saturday to verify the fluffiness because they sell out and they have to get ready to go again at 3:00 p.m. with a chicken barbecue. If your potpie has left you wanting for more, you can get - chicken served with baked beans, macaroni salad, dinner roll and dessert.
Once again, the kitchen will be open at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday evening to prepare for Open Stage, a very popular company event for area performers that will begin at 6:00 p.m. The company hosts several of these events each year and have about 150-225 people in attendance for the evening of fun and entertainment.
If you still haven't had enough food or enough variety of food, then show up again on Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. for the all-you-can eat buffet, an event that brings out more than 500 hungry folks. The menu is extensive and includes roast beef, oven-fried chicken (their number one specialty), ham, turkey, meatballs, liver and onions, vegetables, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy, various salads and assorted desserts.
According to Tice, on Sunday, which is their busiest day, they will go through 100 pounds of roast beef, 200 pounds of chicken, 60 pounds of meatballs, 120 pounds of ham, 50 pounds of beef and chicken liver and 75 pounds of turkey. And the amazing thing is that they will sell completely out around 2:00 p.m., they say.
Tice and Crouse say they keep a guest register for visitors to sign and they are amazed at how many people return each year. "We get tourists and natives, but far more tourists," they said. They have regulars who attend each year from as far away as Michigan and as close as Altoona, Lancaster and Washington, D.C.
They work as a team and they seem to have a schedule in their heads as well as little notes stuck everywhere in their kitchen. They start Tuesday doing the pickled eggs and from then on work pretty much day and night. Each knows their job, and they know that Sarah Shaw does the stuffing, Shirley does the meatballs and everyone else also has a task of his/her own. In fact, the six pizza cutters used to cut the potpie dough are already at the ready on a counter in the kitchen
The question was posed, "How long have you done this?" and the answer was, "for as long as there has been a festival." Since this is the 35th annual folk festival, it isn't that difficult to do the math. The auxiliary formed in 1968 and currently has no more than 25 members, but not all are active in the preparation and serving of food for the many banquets held each year. "We need more members," both Tice and Crouse said and pointed out the fact that they have five banquets scheduled in October in addition to the festival. "We will cook 500 pounds of chicken in October," Tice said referring to the fact that their oven-fried chicken is the menu favorite.
Although the amount of food prepared and served may seem to translate into a good profit, the members say there is always someplace the money is needed. They pointed to various renovations made recently to the kitchen and banquet room as well as added refrigeration and oven units to handle the volume of food being cooked.
Tice currently serves as president of the organization. Betty Hann serves as vice president; Charlotte Crouse, secretary; Sarah Shaw, treasurer; Fran Hoover, financial secretary; and Betty Shotts is the officers' assistant.
By Sunday's end, the team will go home very tired, they will have made the company a little richer, but, perhaps, they will have also been made richer by the old friends they have seen again and the new ones they have made.