The Northern Shenandoah Ruritan Club and the Strasburg Lions Club are canceling food sales at Mayfest after the Town of Strasburg, with support from the Strasburg Fire Department and the Strasburg Town Council, demolished the Eats Stand that was located in the town parking lot.
Carl Newcombe, the president of the Northern Shenandoah Ruritan Club and a member of the Strasburg Lions Club, said that members of both clubs have decided against selling food at Mayfest following the demolition.
“There was basically no reason to sell food because if we tried to sell food, we didn’t have a facility to sell it out of,” Newcombe said.
Newcombe noted that Milton Painter, the interim president of the Strasburg Fire Department, offered to allow the clubs to cook food at the fire station. But the station, Newcombe said, did not have a system to handle the exhaust from cooking.
“In that four-day period (at Mayfest), we cook over 1,600 hamburgers, we cook over 200 pounds of onions and probably half as much in hot dog poundage,” Newcombe said. “And we have this huge exhaust fan that sits over the grill and it really pulls a lot of grease out. Even with that on, every night, we’re covered in grease.”
Newcombe added that the club is not pursuing other ways to sell food at Mayfest, either by finding a food truck or by searching for an outside vendor.
“We’re open to suggestions for darn sure,” Newcombe said. “But we as a club are not going to pursue trying to get a vendor in there to provide food for the carnival.”
Newcombe said that he understood the reasoning behind demolishing the Eats Stand, but said that the demolition is likely to come at a cost for both clubs, which rely heavily on the funds from Mayfest.
“All of us can completely understand,” Newcombe said. “It was an old building; it needed fixed up for sure. But the bottom line is we as two clubs providing funds to the local charities — we were more than perfectly satisfied operating out of what it was like.”
The majority of the local Ruritan Club’s Mayfest funds, Newcombe said, have come from food sales. Mayfest, meanwhile, serves as one of the two major fundraisers for the Ruritan Club and as the major fundraiser for the Lions Club.
Some of that extra revenue could be offset if the clubs decide to hold an additional fundraiser in the fall. Jeff Racey, who runs many of the logistics for the annual carnival, expressed support for potentially holding a fall carnival.
Newcombe noted, “If that came about, that would certainly help pull in some of the lost revenue for sure.”