By Ryan Cornell
FRONT ROYAL -- To some, she's known as Doris Drury. To others, namely the hungry crowds that pack the Warren County Fairgrounds each August, she goes by "the iced tea lady."
Drury, 58, has been making fresh doughnuts and iced tea out of her trailer since first setting up at the fair in 1989. She's usually the earliest food vendor to arrive, opening long before the entrance gates.
"When I first came here, there was no McDonald's or anything in Front Royal then, and the fair manager asked if we could open early for the 4Hers and we said if they support us, we'll open," she said.
They supported her, and she found a new source of help. Each year, she hires 4H kids, and over the past 25 years, she's watched them grow and have kids of their own. A 5 year old who once helped carry ice to her freezer is now 20 and continues to work for her.
Drury recalled one of her first employees, a 14-year-old girl who would help out after she was done showing steers. That girl is now a mother to two children, ages 19 and 20, who both work in the trailer.
"So I'm into the second generation now," she said.
Although much of her menu has remained the same over the past three decades, a new frozen treat this summer is expected to become a hit.
For $4, fairgoers can indulge in a chocolate-dipped slice of either cheesecake, key lime pie or turtle pie on a stick.
Drury uses frozen Edwards pies and dips them into a chocolate sauce, which quickly hardens into a shell.
She also sells frozen chocolate-dipped bananas covered in various toppings.
"You diet the rest of the year," she said. "When you're at the fair, you get to have a good time for one night."
Originally hailing from south of Richmond, Drury now lives in Ormond Beach, Florida, and travels up the coast with her husband to complete the fair circuit each year.
In addition to the Warren County Fair, she sells her treats at the Caroline, Fauquier, Loudoun, Southampton and Isle of Wight county fairs as well as the Virginia and North Carolina state fairs. From February to April, she sets up at a number of Florida fairs for the citrus harvest season.
"I love the fair and I love my 4Hers," Drury said. "My husband says I'll probably be doing this 'til I'm 90 and I'm in a rocking chair in the back and all my little 4Hers will be working the trailer."
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org