Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - State Fair Stew

Every family has a "this-isn't-as-good-as story." For example, Brian and I have a "Clarence's Apple Pie." But that is a story for another time. Here is my brother Dick's story of our "State Fair Stew."
The New York State Fair Stew Standard


By Dick VanderPutten

Jean asked if I would write up the State Fair Stew episode. Some time in the early 50's, Dad was finishing up a job in Syracuse. For the last two weeks he rented a cottage on Lake Oneida and we had ourselves a genuine family vacation. The high point of the trip was a trip to the N.Y. State Fair, which introduced us city kids to our first taste of farm communities. For instance, we had never seen a mother pig nurse a herd of piglets in our lives, and it was far more exciting than any roller coaster could be. 

Naturally, we got hungry, and Dad asked a policeman for a recommendation. I can still see the cop's face as he took one look at us. He just said "You better go to the Four H Club," which had a family style buffet,  just perfect for a working dad with a wife and four ravenous kids. 

The menu consisted of good old reliable beef stew, genuine comfort food, served out of huge pots, nothing fancy at all. It instantly became the standard for all meals served in our house for ever after. Any positive comment about any meal was instantly met with a chorus of "It's not as good as the State Fair Stew." 

Fifty years later, none of us can eat stew without at least verbally comparing it to the State Fair Stew.