Homemade Ice Cream at Penn Township Fire Company Fair Keeps Visitors Unwind During Summer | Newville

Thursday morning saw a flurry of activity at Penn Township Volunteer Fire Companyalthough their annual fire fair did not start until 5 p.m.

Dozens of volunteers were at work at the fire station at 1750 Pine Road in Newville, preparing what could arguably be considered the biggest attraction of the fair: the food.

Operations were well underway in the corn soup and barbecue departments around 9 a.m. Thursday, with sausages and fries on deck.

According to fire company chairman John Wardle, the three-day fair due to run until Saturday takes an “army” of 300 volunteers, three weeks of set-up and a week of dismantling to become a reality.

“The fair is about the Penn Township community, the fair is about the people,” Wardle said. “We are here to serve the community, that is our purpose, whether it is for lives, goods and services or to provide a community atmosphere and a community place where people can come and have weddings, dinners, parties. banquets and all that sort of thing. ”

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It’s also the department’s biggest fundraiser of the year, providing money to run the department, as well as buy a new fire truck to better serve the needs of the community, said Wardle.

The fair features a variety of attractions, including Kiddie Land, a train exhibit, local 4-H projects and a fireworks show to end the event at 10 p.m. Saturday.

It’s also well known for something else: ice cream.

Volunteers arrived at the department at 7 a.m. Thursday to begin producing the homemade treat.

“If we’re lucky we’ll be done around 1 p.m.,” Wardle said. “Then we freeze it and it’s ready to dip tonight. [Thursday] at 5 p.m…. and then we’ll dive until 10 or 11 a.m., and then tomorrow we’ll start again.

Each day, the treat is prepared fresh and served the day it is prepared through what Wardle described as a “large” and “streamlined” operation to produce the 1,000 gallons needed for the event.

A team is working inside the department building to mix up what Wardle described as “the secret recipe” that has been passed down in families for years. Volunteers then add one of five flavors: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, pineapple or raspberry. The ice cream is then mixed in a 20-quart container before being taken outside and passed to the next group.

Once outside, the ice cream is placed in one of six mixers and churned for approximately 20 minutes. Water and salt are also added in this process to freeze the treat. Wardle said it was then transferred to three-gallon containers and frozen for about six hours before being transferred to freezers under the company pavilion for soaking crews to serve from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Fairgoers can purchase the ice cream for $3 per scoop, though Wardle said many attendees choose to get three scoops and others leave donations.


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If they really, really love ice cream, attendees can sign up to participate in the fair’s annual Ice Cream Tasting Contest, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Participants receive five scoops of homemade ice cream from the fair and the first person to finish is declared the winner. Wardle said the first people to register for the fair can compete for a chance to take the title and win a prize.

“I’m looking for eight people who want to eat ice cream quickly,” he said. “There is a kind of secrecy in there; come to the contest and you will find out what it is.

After 51 years of experience with the fair, it’s no surprise that Wardle knows the secret to the competition’s success, despite saying he’s one of hundreds who have been involved with the fair for decades.

“My father has been here for 50 years,” he said. “A lot of families take care of certain events…and that’s their way of giving back. It’s their donation to the community, and then we hope people will come and support us.

For Wardle, it always comes down to the people.

“They know they can come, meet their friends, talk, socialize, eat, eat a plate of ice cream, go back and have another plate of ice cream, whatever, and so they can enjoy the people they see. at the fair. ,” he said. “They come to the fair to see the people.”

After all, food, games and ice cream aside, it’s the people, Wardle said, that make the event “a real family community fair.”

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