CLEAR BROOK — For more than 40 years, the Stonewall District Ruritan Club has been serving barbecued chicken dinners at the Frederick County Fair.
The civic organization cooks 1,000 chickens each year during fair week.
Dinner is served daily at 5 p.m. next to the grandstand at the fairgrounds. Meals come with coleslaw, a mix of green beans and corn, as well as a roll with butter and tea or water. The cost per meal is $12 for an adult and $7 for children.
Proceeds from the chicken dinners help maintain the fairground. The club purchased the 19-acre site in 1971. Money raised also helps fund donations to various community organizations and student scholarships. The club is currently working with the Winchester Rotary Club to raise money to help buy a passenger van for the Henry & William Evans Home for Children in Winchester.
About nine volunteers help serve the chicken dinners each night. On the first night of the fair on Tuesday, the club made about $2,227 from chicken dinner sales, according to Joe Hulver, head organizer of the chicken dinner fundraiser.
Any leftover food is donated to the Winchester-based Congregational Community Action Project (CCAP) or to the Evans Home.
The chickens are purchased from food distributor Wholesome Foods Inc. in Edinburg.
Last year's fair was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the club was able to hold a chicken dinner fundraiser at a demolition derby held at the fairground in October.
"If it hadn't been for that, we would have really been hurting," Hulver said.
What keeps Hulver and others involved in the club and its fundraisers is knowing that it's helping people.
"There's a lot of people hurting right now," said Bob Rodeffer, a club member and chicken dinner volunteer. "Anything that anybody can do to kind of ease that hurting is going to help everybody."
Daniel Haines, of Hampshire County, West Virginia, was waiting with his daughter, Desiree Haines, 13, to grab a chicken dinner on Wednesday.
Haines estimated that he's been buying chicken dinners at the fair for nearly 25 years. He likes supporting the effort because he knows the proceeds go to good causes.
The fair continues through Saturday at the Frederick County Fairgrounds. Gates open at 4 p.m. Rides and concessions start at 6 p.m.
Fair admission is $7 for ages 12 and older and $3 for children 6-11. Children 5 and younger are admitted free of charge. For those wishing to attend the fair multiple times, an adult weekly ticket is $20 and a weekly ticket for a child is $10.
A wrist band can be purchased at the gate for $25 to ride all of the carnival rides. Those who order online at gambillamusements.com will get a $5 discount.
For more information, visit www.frederickcountyfair.com.