On Sunday, my wife and I finished our five days of working the Atascadero Kiwanis Club food concession at the California Mid-State Fair.
To keep the food booth open from 7 a.m. until almost 9 p.m. during the 12 days of the fair requires slightly more than 100 time slots. On top of that, you have crew chiefs and others who clean up the booth between 5 and 7 a.m. and others who count the money, order the buns and burgers and more.
The club has maintained a concession booth at the fair for about 30 years. We believe it is probably the only nonprofit food booth left on the fairgrounds.
For two weeks, during what is usually the warmest part of the summer, we flip burgers, prep fries and corn dogs, pour sodas, iced tea and beer, and sell thousands of our famous “Eggs Kiwanis” (bacon, cheese and an egg on a bun).
The concession booth is a great community outreach for the Kiwanis Club, and we all feel fortunate to have it. There are times when it gets hectic in the small kitchen as we amateurs try to run a fast-food stand.
The members also open the booth during a number of the off-season horse shows and other livestock events at the fair’s equestrian center.
Each member is encouraged to put in five shifts. Some do more, and others do less. It is easier for those of us who are retired to work during the day, while those working stiffs get the night shift.
Having the booth at the fair makes it possible for the club to do a number of service projects, such as new playground improvements at Santa Rosa School, continuous support of the local school district’s Battle of the Books, feeding the homeless, providing a dozen scholarships to deserving high school students or doing fundraising barbecues for numerous worthy causes including the car show or Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial.
The local Kiwanis Club recently chartered an Aktion Club for the clients at Escuela del Rio, and it is also a longtime sponsor of the Key Club at Atascadero High School. All three clubs (sanctioned by Kiwanis International) often work together on a community project, such as ringing the bell for the Salvation Army or helping out at the Loaves and Fishes Christmas Outreach each December at the National Guard Armory.
On any given shift at the concession booth, you need a cook, a cook’s helper and two people on the window. Because I could cook only one thing at a time, I don’t cook. I’m not swift enough to work as a cook’s helper, because it requires intensive multitasking. Only once did I try to be cook’s helper when my wife was the cook. We eventually started speaking again after a few days.
That’s why you’ll only find me working the window.