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4-H food stand is their tradition

Vicky Dosdall is the manager of the 4-H Food Stand at the Stevens County Fair. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times1 / 2
Brianna Schmidgall takes a groups order at the 4-H food stand at the Stevens County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 10 in Morris. Brooke Kern / Stevens County Times2 / 2

When the Stevens County Fair arrives, cousins Vicky Dosdall and Deb Erickson know where they will be. It's inside the 4-H food stand on the fairgrounds.

"It's just kind of a tradition," Erickson said. A family tradition that started when Dosdall's mom Flossie Mathison was the food stand manager and Erickson's mom Evie Raasch helped.

"I started helping (mom Mathison) in 1977 or so. That's a long time," Dosdall said. Mathison left the position to care for Dosdall's twins Thori and Tallack who were born in 1989. Dosdall has been the food stand manager for many years.

"We've done it so long that each knows what to do, we don't question...," Erickson said.

The cousins along with worker Liz Spohr were moving about the kitchen on Aug. 10 preparing for the 10 a.m. opening.

Spohr was making coleslaw. Dosdall wrapped potatoes in aluminum foil for baking. Erickson was doing other tasks. It's not all work.

"We have a lot of laughs here," Dosdall said.

"It's a lot of fun," Spohr said.

Although the trio was busy on that morning, the preparation work starts weeks before the fair. Dosdall orders needed food right after July 4. Members of county 4-H clubs clean the building the week before the fair and again on the Monday of fair week.

Erickson said Dosdall's passion and dedication to the food stand are what makes it successful each year. Dosdall is dedicated but she's also quick to credit those who help including the 4-H members and parents who work during the fair.

'"I've been very fortunate to have good people who are willing to come in and help," Dosdall said.

While 4-H members and families are busy during the fair, they are also willing to work, she said.

"The big thing here is 4-'hers wait on you. You don't see that at every 4-H food stand," Dosdall said.

Having kids serve the food is one of the joys and attractions of the 4-H food stand, the women said.

"You see the kids growing up. It's fun to watch them wait on tables," Spohr said.

Children and or grandchildren of all three women have been involved in 4-H over the years. It's a big reason why they are willing to work in the 4-H food stand, they said. 4-H teaches youth interpersonal skills through judging and presentations as well as other skills, the women said.

The names and faces of the kids who have worked in the stand have changed over the years, just as the stand itself has.

Years ago, the food stand served hotdish, Erickson said.

"I don't remember that," Spohr said.

"That shipped sailed a long time ago," Dosdall said of serving hotdish.

"How did we ever do that?" Erickson said of hotdishes.

Walking tacos were added to the menu a few years ago. Barbecue pork was removed from the menu this year. And Dosdall said she won't serve hot beef commercials, "not in my lifetime." It's too labor intensive.

One of the most popular menu items continues. Diners love the homemade vegetable beef soup, Dosdall said. It doesn't matter if it's 60 degrees or 90 degrees, people will eat that soup, she said.

The kitchen has also changed over the years as a new portion was added in the mid 1990s. The women marveled at how the eating area once housed the stoves, coolers, freezers and tables for diners.

The addition not only made room for stoves, coolers, freezers, shelves and other equipment but also for a restroom.

A restroom meant workers no longer had to scurry toa restroom outside the building.

The food stand has had upgrades but each fair season there are concerns about whether a stove, cooler or freezer may need to be replaced, Dosdall said. If anything does need fixing or replacing, local contractors are willing to fix it quickly, Dosdall said.

The Stevens County Fair continues through Sunday, Aug. 13.