From the Center

Published 12:48 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Nothing like laughing children to lift your spirits the day after a tough loss. So, several families got together and decided to take on the Laurel fair Saturday afternoon.

It was my first time at the Laurel fair, and I was very impressed for many reasons. It was clean, no lines for the rides, tons of food and  plenty of security. One thing I loved most was that there were plenty of tables and benches throughout the grounds to take a break.

Early in the day, I noticed a sign at one of the vendors offering chicken and dumplings, and corned beef and cabbage. Well that’s odd, I thought. Most fair food is fried, grilled, or on a stick. Still awfully warm outside to be serving what I consider “winter food.”

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I didn’t think much more about it, until we found ourselves resting outside of “Sam’s Place.” We weren’t sure who Sam was but we were sure appreciative of his bench.

There was a young man hanging up signs around the stand at the time, so we made light conversation with him while we rested…and ate homemade ice cream.

Well, it didn’t take long for us to figure out who Sam was. I’m not sure if the homemade ice cream lured him over, or just the longing for conversation.

“My wife was pregnant with that young man you were just talking to when I opened this stand,” he said.

Sam told us that 34 years ago he was working for the Laurel Leader-Call. He went to the fairgrounds to report on the fair and grab his annual plate of chicken and dumplings.

When he walked up to the trailer, he saw a “for sale” sign. He asked the man how much he wanted for the business, gave him $100 to take the sign down and said if he wasn’t back in an hour he could put the sign back up and keep the $100. Sam went to see his buddy at the local bank and within 45 minutes was the owner of a chicken and dumpling stand at the local fair.  He paid off the bank loan nine days later. That tells me all I need to know about those chicken and dumplings.

We sat there for almost an hour listening to Sam. He told us how he fed all the fair workers breakfast for years before the gates even opened and that for several years he was the only vendor with ice so he supplied it to all the others.

It was like stepping back in time. I was intrigued and found myself asking more and more questions until I looked up at one point and Sam was gone. Back he came a few minutes later with his own homemade ice cream. So it was the ice cream!

Now we know about the chicken and dumplings, but what about the corned beef and cabbage?

“One night while we were cleaning up, I was hungry for something different, so I found a head of cabbage and some corned beef and threw it on the griddle. It wasn’t long before all the stand owners were at my window wanting me to share. It was on the menu the next day.”

Moral of the story: When something peaks your interest, you probably want to hear the story behind it. It’s usually a good one.