Walking or sitting, eating is always a top priority at the Ephrata Fair

By on September 27, 2017

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You won’t go hungry at the Ephrata Fair, that’s for sure.

Whether you’re in the mood for Greek gyros, deep-fried vegetables, roasted corn, pumpkin funnel cakes, beef brisket sandwiches, corn dogs, cheese steaks, Asian noodles, chicken wings, crab cakes, fried oysters, grilled cheese sandwiches or fresh squeezed lemonade, you’ll find it on the Ephrata fairway.

“My favorite thing here is the toasted cheeseburger at the Akron Lions,” said Mike Lambert, who was patiently waiting for the prized cheeseburger, which is essentially a hamburger inside of a toasted grilled cheese sandwich.

Lambert would have a long wait. The Akron Lion’s stand was not opening until late afternoon on Tuesday and it was just after noon on opening day. But he and lots of others were willing to wait on the popular fair food.

Of course, there were plenty of options to tide them over.

Pumpkin funnel cakes were a fall favorite, along with fresh-cut French fries, pretzel dogs, tender beef brisket sandwiches and artisan grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with things like tomato or bacon.

Kate Suhrbier and her daughter, Maddie, had spent the morning serving up apple dumplings at the Ephrata Area Republican stand. When Suhrbier’s shift was over, she did the logical thing. She ordered one to share with her daughter. It was topped with vanilla ice cream.

“This is phenomenal,” said Suhrbier, noting that the delicious apple dumplings came from Achenbach’s bakery.

Most of the Ephrata Fair food is walking food. It’s easy to munch on a corn dog or sip a milkshake as you take in the sights and sounds of fair day in Ephrata.

If you want to relax, cool off and have a seat, the Lord’s Fair Share is the perfect spot to do just that. This restaurant on wheels has comfy tables and benches in the shade. You can enjoy table service and order from a full menu of options that include turkey barbecue, fried ham sandwiches, BLTs, garden salad, chicken corn soup, heart healthy vegetable soup, ham and bean soup, homemade applesauce and pepper cabbage slaw.

From Wednesday through Friday, there are daily platters of the day, with beef tips and noodles on Wednesday, chicken pot pie on Thursday and deviled clam patties, macaroni and cheese and Harvard beets on Friday.

“We don’t have the platters on set-up or take-down days,” said Joyce Martin, who serves on the committee at Hinkletown Mennonite Church. “I always enjoy the clam patties, macaroni and cheese and Harvard beets, because I don’t make that at home.”

The Lord’s Fair Share is staffed by some 75 volunteers from Hinkletown Mennonite Church. They do cooking, serving, clean up and dish washing, with approximately 15 on staff at any given time.

“Most of the volunteers take the week off from work to prepare and serve food,” added Martin. “We have a great time together. It’s a fun time at the Ephrata Fair.”

When the restaurant-on-wheels isn’t in use, it is stored at the Martin farm, just east of Ephrata. The three sections are carefully transported by truck and then assembled at the fair. The Lord’s Fair Share is only in use for the Ephrata Fair, and after fair week, it goes back into storage until the next year. That’s also when repairs are done to spruce things up.

The Lord’s Fair Share was started back in Sept. 1998 in partnership with the Society of Farm Women #3 of Lancaster County. For three years, the Farm Women mentored Hickletown Mennonite Church to prepare them to take over the restaurant. Some of the recipes, such as clam patties originated with the Farm Women.

One of the most popular sandwiches is the Farm Women Special, which is a hamburger with fried ham, cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce and mayonnaise on a kaiser roll with chips and pickles. That sandwich, of course, got its start with the Farm Women.

“I always get it here at the Ephrata Fair. It’s very good,” said Elaine Sensenig, chairwoman of domestic exhibits for the fair. “It’s a tradition that we all come here on the first day of the fair.”

Sensenig was joined by needlework co-chairwomen Nancy Good and Melanie Zimmerman, along with other fair volunteers. Most were indulging in a Farm Women special.

That sandwich has been on the menu since the very beginning. After three years, Hinkletown Mennonite Church took over the reins. In 2001, they were pros at preparing the food, serving it up and keeping customers happy in the fair’s only sit-down restaurant.

“The purpose of the Lord’s Fair Share is to serve the community,” said Martin.

In the 17 years since Hinkletown Mennonite Church has been operating the fair days restaurant, they have raised money for projects such as Good Samaritan shelter, the Bridge and Crossfire community youth programs. For three years, all proceeds from the Lord’s Fair Share went toward building a Habitat for Humanity for a family in need.

“It’s very gratifying to do what we can for the community, and we hope everyone likes the food,” said Martin. “That’s what we’re here for.”

One Comment

  1. dave weaver

    September 30, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    where are all the people at

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