|Is that grease on the napkins? You bet. As one of the Akron (PA) Lions|
used to advertise while tending the sizzling spuds: "Crisp and mellow,
golden yellow, golly but they're good!"
Crowds gather and walk the streets to find scores of food kiosks, games of chance, and both kiddie and adult thrill rides. Several blocks away in the town park the agricultural tent houses livestock to show and sell, as well as canned goods to be judged.
Now, about that special meal . . . You can buy all the sausage sandwiches, barbecue and funnel cakes you can eat but none of it compares with the Akron Lions crispy fries and their signature sandwich—the toasted cheese burger. Many decades ago the Lions sold grilled cheese sandwiches and hamburgers separately. One day at the stand a bold Lion decided to pop a juicy burger inside his grilled cheese sandwich and, voila!, a delicacy was born. Now the Lions sell upwards of 15,000 of these sandwiches at the fair every year, and they bring home ~$50,000 in profits for their charitable organization. My father has been a proud Akron Lion for 54 years and, for many of those years, he worked the stand on its busiest nights. When my dad sold sandwiches he picked up the tab for my annual toasted cheeseburger habit.
You can still line up at the "Queen of the Midway" and order either a plain burger or a grilled cheese sandwich but, with those toasted cheese burgers staring you in the face, why would you?
|Scores of people wait in line at the Akron Lions Stand for a chance to|
sink their teeth (man at bottom right) into one of those tasty
toasted cheese sandwiches.
|The Merry-go-Round attracts the younger crowd and their|
parents on a stellar autumn evening.
While the tradition of fine food at the Akron Lions stand will continue, another long-standing tradition at the Ephrata Fair is coming to an end. For the past 42 years Walt and Joan Dembroski have been traveling from Florida to bring their "Fat Albert" wheel-of-chance game to the fair. I played the game for 25 cents when I was in high school—back when Walt and Joan were young. Now in their 70's Walt and Joan announced this would be their final year at the fair. Huge crowds lined their stand every night, everyone plopping down their 50 cents, (or three tries for a dollar) for their chance to win a prize.
|Another game of chance next to the Funnel Cakes.|
Shoot a bullseye and take home one of these stuffed animals.
|Crowds fill the midway on Friday night at the fair.|
|Sheldon's Gallery and Store welcomes fair-goers to Ephrata's Main Street.|
The Ephrata fair begins on a Tuesday night. The Ephrata parade, filled with floats, marching bands, baton twirlers and more is the unofficial Wednesday evening kick-off for the festivities.
Readers, did the town you grew up in have its own annual fair, farm show or carnival? Do you have fond memories of special foods, exhibits, games or rides?
Learn more about the Ephrata Fair by visiting their website: http://www.ephratafair.org/