4-H stand gets new organizers
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 or meal probably don't understand what a major undertaking it is to run each year.
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. Of course, as the fair has gotten closer, the number of meetings has increased Seetin said.
Sullivan is also the county extension director, as well as the 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 a laugh. "I just kind of change roles I guess."
With her duties at the extension agency and the fair, it could be a long week for Sullivan.
"Yeah, I'll probably be a little more tired this year, but oh well, what's new?" she said with a chuckle.
Someone who knows firsthand the dedication fair week takes is Wiley. She estimated she's worked more than 3,500 hours during her 35 years helping with the stand, which was roughly 110 hours each year during fair week.
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.
"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)."
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.
The two said they've 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 "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, will still offer assistance at the food stand. It's something Wood said probably would take some getting used to.