Food and faith at the West End Fair
Middlecreek Christian Church has operated this stand at the West End Fair for 17 years. HUNTRE KEIP/TIMES NEWS
Middlecreek Christian Church keeps a prayer box near its stand.
Joe Kenas makes potato pancakes at the Our Lady Queen of Peace food stand.
Potato pancakes are available at the Our Lady Queen of Peace food stand.
Middlecreek Christian Church has served many fairgoers, but the church continues its services after the West End Fair concludes.
The nondenominational church has participated in the fair for 17 years, and has proved to be its biggest fundraiser.
The menu has been consistent with some tweaks while keeping popular dishes such as apple dumplings and bean bake.
“To us, it’s more of a mission. We keep our food prices down so families can eat well and affordably,” said Pat Hillanbrand, elder and member of the Middlecreek Christian Church.
Aside from the food, the church offers a prayer box next to the stand. At the prayer box, there are slips of paper designated as prayer requests for people to fill out and place in the mailbox. Every day, the requests are taken out and reviewed by the congregation.
“We really try to help them. Sometimes, people leave contact information, and we call them. Some requests are left anonymous, then we pray for them — that’s what we can do,” Hillanbrand said.
The church’s generosity doesn’t stop with the customers. The fair opens to the public at noon, but volunteers come in early to make breakfast for the other food vendors.
“A lot of the food vendors are running around to prepare for their food, so it’s what we can do to help out and make times less stressful for them,” Hillanbrand said.
Our Lady Queen of Peace
In case of a rain shower, Our Lady Queen of Peace gives fairgoers some food and shelter.
The food stand is located in the covered pavilion near the main stage at the West End Fair. The pavilion is decorated with fall items and kept cool with big fans.
“We pray it doesn’t rain for the other vendors, but if it does, we’re here,” said Margaret LaFiura, director of faith formation and religious education of the church.
The church has been involved with the West End Fair for six years, which became a successful fundraiser.
Pulled pork and potato pancakes have been a popular staple at the stand. The potato pancakes are accompanied with sides of sour cream and applesauce.
“We make thousands of pancakes a year,” volunteer Joe Kenas said.
Kenas has been making potato pancakes since the beginning.
Approximately 45 church volunteers help each day during the weeklong fair, including the church’s pastor, the Rev. Michael F. Quinnan.
“The fair is our perfect opportunity to serve the community with a smile,” LaFiura said.
The turnout on Sunday was lower than usual, with only 16,846 people attending on opening day.
On Monday, the attendance was 15,005.
The fair continues through Saturday.