Funds raised during Fayette County Fair benefit variety of organizations

| Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 12:41 a.m.

Local nonprofit organizations are serving up delicious dishes at the Fayette County Fair and raising money for churches, schools and other causes.

Wilma Wilson said the Old Trails Lions Club of Hopwood has had a food booth at the fair for many years. Some of the favorite foods were baked potatoes and ice cream topped with blueberries and strawberries.

“I think we're the only food booth that has baked potatoes,” she said. “Everyone seems to love the ice cream topped with fruit. The customers are telling us that it's very refreshing.”

Wilson said the Fayette County Fair is the biggest fundraiser for the Old Trails Lions Club every year.

“Our business has been fantastic so far this year. Sunday was a beautiful day and we were very busy. Saturday was a slow day because it rained. No one wants to walk around the fair when it's raining.”

Wilson said it seems like the attendance at the 59th annual fair is similar to what it was last year.

“It's really hard to say yet, but it seems like the crowds are about the same as they were last year,” she said. “The fair officials will have to release the final numbers.”

The Old Trails Lions Club raises money for the Fayette County Association for the Blind, Wilson said.

Last year, Wilson said, the organization raised about $2,500 for the nonprofit. She said she's hoping the club raises at least that much this year.

“There are some costs associated with buying the food, but all of the proceeds go to help the nonprofit organizations that the Lions Club supports,” she said. “All of the money that we raise goes back to the public.”

Jim Hercik, treasurer of the Old Trails Lion Club, said there is a lot of overhead associated with buying and preparing food for the 10-day event.

In addition to the Fayette County Association for the Blind, Hercik said proceeds fund eye and diabetes research.

“We have 12 different charities that we raise money for on an ongoing basis,” Hercik said. “The Lions Club is the largest service organization in the world.”

Hercik said the Old Trails Lions Club is hoping to raise more money at this year's fair because it is raffling off a commercial-grade gas grill, cover and all of the accessories.

“We are selling $1 tickets for the gas grill,” Hercik said. “The number will be drawn on the Sunday, Aug. 4, Pennsylvania Daily Number. Someone will win a really nice gas grill, and we're hoping this will help to boost our proceeds this year.”

Dale Clawson of Dunbar was busy manning the food booth for the Franklin Memorial United Methodist Church in Dunbar Borough.

Clawson said the church has offered a food booth at the fair since it opened 59 years ago.

Customers, who return to the church food booth every year seem to love the haluski and the homemade pies that the volunteers prepare for the fair.

“Of course, the hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries are also very popular,” he added.

The fair serves as the major fundraising event for the church, Clawson said.

“Our proceeds are usually between $5,000 and $10,000 every year, which keeps the church going,” he said. “Our business has been pretty steady this year.”

Students from the Fayette County Area Vocational-Technical School built the food booth for the Connellsville Mighty Falcon Marching Band.

Rolling Thunder, a motorcycle group that includes veterans, served corn on the cob to the hungry crowd.

The fair continues through Saturday at the fairgrounds in Dunbar Township.

Cindy Ekas is a contributing writer.

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