Selling Food for Charity

By: Michael Hyland Email
By: Michael Hyland Email

It's about mid-way through the week of events at the Rockingham County Fair. With big crowds for the Beach Boys and other acts, attendance and sales are up.

Many service organizations are running the food booths in order to finance projects in the community, and the vendors, in part, rely on those sales throughout the rest of the year.

The Cross Keys/Mill Creek Ruritan Club has been staffing the chicken shack for 50 years, from before the time the fair moved to its current location.

"Any need within our community is where our money goes to," says Gerry Beam, member and former president of the club.

The club has sponsored $5,000 for a playground at the new Cub Run Elementary School in Rockingham County. It also gives out scholarships for college students.

"Ruritan is unique in that most of the money that's raised by your local Ruritan club is dispersed back into the local community," says Beam.

Ruritan clubs across the fair grounds are boasting higher sales this year thanks partially to the weather and partially to big-name music acts.

"It's amazing how well people are coming out even with the economy like it is," says Glen Thomas, a member of Bridgewater's Ruritan Club. "But, the people are doing a fantastic job of coming out and supporting the civic clubs."

It takes hours of preparation each day to get the booths ready for the crowds, but they're all devoted to service projects that continue throughout the year.

"By the time we run out here, we're ready to start on something else," says Bob Miller, a member of the Mount Crawford Ruritan Club.

"If you've ever been on the giving end of some of these scholarships and some of the money we pass out, it's very much worthwhile," says Beam.

With big draws at the fair Tuesday and on other nights, the chicken shack has been serving up to 3,500 meals a night and pulled in about $30,000.

This year, the fair is also featuring two new permanent booths for the Broadway/Timberville Ruritan Club and the Harrisonburg Kiwanis Club.


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