Saturday and Sunday were great days to run a pop sale. Especially Sunday when demolition derby fans insisted on keeping their seats during a 3 hour lull. We sold water, pop and Gatorade like there was no tomorrow. And ran out of everything before the grand finale!
I got to test out a new career path: vendor at a major sports arena. Ok, I exagerate a small bit. In between heats, I grabbed a few kids to carry trays of water, a wad of cash and hit the stands. We sold a number of cases just walking across one set of stands.
Last year, the career path I tested out was carnival barker. I could shout out, joke with people and have my voice intact at the end of the day. I projected rather than strained my vocal cords. And don't walk by with a Mohawk hairstyle and expect to escape comment ... my nieces would dive under the counter to avoid being associated with me.
I came mid-afternoon Saturday when I learned ErikM intended to stop by. I had lost track of time, which caused me to be later than expected. I had Erik wait for me at the auction. Unfortunately, he must have been there for the 'warm up act' auctions because he wasn't very excited. After he left, I went back to the auction where they were selling 4-H as well as open class pigs. What excitment (and free water)!
When these pigs are being auctioned, the owner walks along prodding the pig along with a leather clapper which makes a loud snapping noise. I gathered it was the noise more than then potential pain, which kept the pig marching. The smaller and cuter the kid, the more money they seemed to get. Some older kids also walked their pigs ribbons and trophys along side so you knew always you were getting pedigree. The auction is conducted around them while the owner has a feigned bored look, but must be jumping inside with glee.
- One 4-H child around 7 years old, sold her pig for $12.25 per pound. Her Mother, who is a 4-H leader, sold her pig in open class for a mere $2 per pound.
- One lady offering her pig in open class received a marriage proposal. Her fiance's parents bought her pig for a mere $25 per pound.
- Another pig was purchased for $41.25 per pound or approximately $10,500. I learned the back channel story on this one. The farm the pig was raised is owned by a major hotel chain family, who rent it out to the people who raised the pig. The pig was purchased by the major hotel chain. Like everything else in life, it is who you know.
- I learned by the end of the auction, when buyer fatigue had set in, pigs sold for $0.89 per pound.
- Pigs were not the exclusive area of exciteable bidding. Sheep sold for $6 per pound. A ("damn") goat sold for $600. Steers, which apparently Erik witnessed, went for $1-$2 per pound, which apparently is good money..
On Sunday morning, I went over to the cafeteria to eat my breakfast of champions: hash browns with lots of cracked pepper, two Sunnyside up eggs, grilled ham and rye toast. At the next table were a clutch of farmers I know, so I planted myself within easy listening distance. Cluck, cluck, cluck ... they were loudly evaluating who did and did not buy at the auction this year, then openly speculating why. Cursing the other bidders who interfered with their purchase goals. Counting out how many pigs went to St. Mary's (see event board), Mundelein High School pig roast and other local events and pantries. Just over my head was the roster of bidders from last year, so I had to keep my eyes down to avoid their recognizing how interested I was in their gossip. Unfortunately, my phone went off. I had to reluctantly leave to deal with volunteer issues.
In the animal baby department, I can confirm the eggs never did hatch, which embarassed the poor lady who spent the last month brooding over these imposters. The four pregnant pigs all gave birth during Fair week, which really impressed everyone including the breeders. You can plan but after a while it is nature taking its course which is not always very cooperative. I know the family who brought the pigs. They joked they brought 4 pigs to the Fair, but they were taking 40 pigs home.
When Erik was around, I did drag him over to the Nitrogen-cooled ice cream vendor. We lucked out because the guy was loading fresh ice cream mix into the machine. We learned there is no churning because the ice cream freezes instantly upon contact with the Nitrogen. They gave us each a sample from the freezer case which was ok. After realizing we were really interested in the process, they gave us a sample directly from the Nitrogen chiller. The ice cream on our spoons had just frozen on contact. It was like lumpy, frozen cheez whiz from the can which had frozen in lumpy squiggles. We got a good laugh from the experience though we didn't buy a full serving.
The meals I ate the last two days, except for my terrific breakfasts, were more fueled by curiosity. Chicken teriyaki and vegetable tempura, as bad as it looked I had to try, so it was no surprise it tasted as bad as it looked. My walleye dinner was good but the beans and hushpuppies were cold. I should have stuck with my tried and trues: Hillery's ribs, Sammies for steak burgers and my holy roller gyros vendors.
Will I do this next year? Yep. I wanted to hang up my pop queen crown, which is featured on my Christmas tree, but I cannot leave it just yet. I have a few more ideas to try. Plus my nieces simply cannot accept Summer without our devotion to the Lake County Fair and 4-H.
What I will do differently next year? I will get my pies back into the open class competition.
"You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie DupreeFacebook
, Greater Midwest Foodways
, Road Food 2012: Podcast