WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP —
Local students working at the Ice Cream and Milkshake Booth on the Crawford County Fairgrounds are asked the same question every year, often accompanied by a look of disbelief.
“Wow, that’s a small?”
This pint-sized sweet shop — located across from the 4-H Dairy Barn — has been a fairgrounds fixture for well over a decade, serving up big portions at a relatively small price year after year, according to staff and members of the fair’s Dairy Committee.
“It’s always been popular,” said Jean Black, dairy committee treasurer. “We’re making out pretty good so far and that’s good.”
And the popularity seems to be growing.
As a former booth manager, Black produced records showing last year’s sales compared to 2007.
“They’ve doubled since then,” she said, recalling a time when the booth had one less soft-serve machine and milkshakes were handmade.
Nowadays the working staff turns out approximately 19,000 cones, 9,000 shakes and 2,000 sundaes or ice cream dishes each year at the fair. That averages out to about 225 gallons of ice cream a day during the eight-day fair.
And Black says the hired youth enjoy every minute of it.
“It gets really busy,” said Justice Gray, arising senior at Meadville Area Senior High School, who’s worked the booth for at least three years. “It’s so much fun. The customers are really nice.”
Gray observed that the volume of customers depends usually on the weather, but there never seems to be a day without several surprised customers — her favorite part of the job.
“It’s funny, when you make a small (cone),” Gray said, “so many people will say, ‘Oh my God, that’s a small?’”
Another booth aspect that often surprises customers is the use of local ice cream.
“Titusville Dairy (Products, Co.) makes all of our mixes and they are the best,” said Trish Sweatman, who currently runs booth operations.
The dairy committee added the company’s name to the booth’s sign years ago in recognition for good service and to let customers know the product is local, Black said.
“By the end of the week, people have eaten a lot of ice cream cones,” Black said with a laugh. “The biggest thing, though, is that the profits all go into the dairy end of the fair.”
Over the years, the dairy committee has used the ice cream booth and other fundraisers to provide for the dairy barns and facilities on the fairgrounds.
Most recently, proceeds have gone to the 4-H Barn roof and a wash rack with additional water lines for exhibitors washing their cattle.
“Basically that’s what we do,” Black said. “We use that money for improving things for the dairy exhibitors.”
You can go
The Dairy Committee’s Ice Cream and Milkshake Booth is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. throughout fair week and is located across from the 4-H Dairy Barn.
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.