Milkshake stand truly a team effort

The Seneca County Fair continues to have its milkshake stand, thanks to the work of Linda Piper and Sue Lewis.

Linda Piper has helped organize the Junior Leadership Club milkshake stand at the Seneca County Fair for 13 years.

The stand, located in the Education Building, raises funds for the Junior Leadership Club and the 4-H Advisory Council.

Clubs from around the county work in three-hour shifts and the funds are split evenly between the Junior Leadership Club and the advisory council.

It takes about 10 people to run the stand at each shift and adult members of each group are always in attendance.

After club members finish their shift, they receive a free milkshake.

At the end of the day, Junior Leadership Club members scrub the floors, repack the ice cream and prepare the booth for the next day.

“It’s a learning experience,” Piper said. “They have to learn to work as a group. They have to learn how to add money, make change and be polite.”

“It’s something the kids always look forward to,” Sue Lewis said. “It’s a teaching tool, and it can help give them new life skills.”

Lewis has helped Piper with organizing the stand and brainstorming ideas from year to year. For the past four years, Lewis and Piper met before the fair to discuss potential upgrades to the stand according to suggestions from previous years.

Because of these suggestions, the stand has started selling root beer floats and bags of ice.

Piper said they try to purchase all of the supplies from Seneca County. The profits are put toward projects, books, awards, ribbons and other expenses.

“It stays right here with the kids,” Lewis said. “I came from a different county, and in a lot of counties the kids have to buy their 4-H projects. It gets expensive for the kids and the families. It lowers the costs for those families.”

Lewis and Piper are discussing possibly running the stand during flea markets.

Piper got involved when her kids were a part of the Junior Leadership Club.

“I knew it was a good experience for kids and I didn’t want to lose it,” Piper said. “The (Junior Leadership) kids, with showing their projects here at the fair and being in other activities, couldn’t manage it. That’s when we turned it over to have the clubs come in to help.”

They both also think that it helps tie in the 4-H program along with the fair.

“It makes 4-H visible,” Piper said. “It shows the people that they are working, not just getting things handed to them and donated. They have to work to get it.”

The stand had been located in a makeshift stand, but it recently moved to the Education Building. Volunteers came to complete the enclosure, including kids and community members.

“The community came together,” Piper said.

Along with volunteers, groups and individuals donated to the building, including Bob Mowery, Tony Gold Memorial, Seneca County 4-H Advisory Council, Seneca County Junior Leadership, Republic Lumber, Clouse Electric, Clouse Construction, Palmer Brothers, Union Grange and North Central Electric Co-op.

With money and donations, they have been able to make improvements to the building, purchase signs and buy a new syrup dispenser.

They salvaged as much as they could from the old stand, including parts of the roof, countertops and freezers.

Phillips Electric has loaned the stand an extra freezer for the fair this year.

The stand sells presale tickets that many groups and clubs use as gifts for their members. “Its a nice little way to say thank you,” Lewis said. “It’s a great way to get them to pop over, get a milkshake, relax.”

Gift certificates still are available at the stand.

Piper and Lewis said they often have adults who have volunteered in the past come back to visit or work.

“I had three kids in here on Saturday. They had to come see me and tell me that they were home from college,” said Piper. “They had so much fun working. It’s priceless.”

The stand is open 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. during the fair.