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Rocky Ridge kicks off carnival with food & fun

Ingrid Mezo

Brandon Kinnaird, 13, (above) found out he could go faster sliding down the giant wooden slide on his shorts rather than use the burlap sack. Rockey Ridge volunteers Jean Knipple and Bill Dinterman (above right) assemble hot ham sandwiches for patrons. Zack Carter, 6, and sister Sierra, 4, (right) of Utica, show off the goldfish they won on Monday night at the Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Company Carnival. the carnival runs through Saturday.

(8/16) Thin slices of pale ham bubbled and browned to a golden crisp on Steve Wolfe’s hot grill at the Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Co. carnival Monday evening.

Wolfe, a resident of Rocky Ridge, and other volunteers were hard at work at the ham stand in Mt. Tabor Park, and the demand for the carnival’s famous country fried ham sandwiches had only begun.

Rocky Ridge kicked off its annual carnival Monday evening with its signature food and main attractions – country fried ham sandwiches, homemade fruit pies, ham and bean soup and chicken salad.

By Wolfe’s estimate, more than 300 pounds of ham had already been fried in peanut oil and stacked high on soft, white buns. The five grills under the pavilion were working at full speed and barely keeping up with demand.

‘‘That’s a good sign for us during the week," Wolfe said.

According to carnival organizer Betty Ann Mumma, there are no written recipes for the carnival’s famous foods and everything is prepared from memory.

‘‘I’ve been doing it for 40 years...and after you do it so much, it’s just a routine," she said.

There is also no deviating from the main ingredients or else the customers will know.

Nearly two tons of ham had been prepared in advance for the carnival, and Mumma said she expects the crew to prepare more by the end of the week.

For Bob Mumma, the president of Rocky Ridge’s Fire Co., the carnival is the biggest fundraiser for the company. Last year the carnival brought in $48,000 in profits.

The carnival’s family atmosphere and its food are what attracted Russ Clarke of Uniontown this year.

‘‘During the week I’ll try most things because they’re all good," Clarke said.

He and his wife, Betty, usually don’t attend a lot of the carnivals, he said, but they never skip Rocky Ridge.

While the food may have been the main attraction for many carnival seekers, the 35-foot tall wooden slide brought fun and memories for the Burke family of Creagerstown. The covered slide, which is 100 feet long, has been a mainstay at the park since Rocky Ridge started the carnival nearly 54 years ago.

As children breezed down the wavy, wooden slide on blankets and burlap sacks, Michael Burke watched his 6-year-old son Corey sail to the bottom and land in a pile of sawdust. Burke asked his son if he wanted a rest. Red cheeked and full of energy, Corey shook his head no and bounded up the ramp for another run.

‘‘It looks like he’ll need one in a little bit," Burke said.

The wooden slide brought back memories for Burke’s wife, Debbie, who used to spend all her time on the slide when she was a young girl.

‘‘I just remember going on the slide from the time we came to the time we left," she said.

The small, compact atmosphere of the carnival and the affordable games and hayrides were a bonus for her and her family. For a small price they were able to try everything the carnival offered, she said.

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