SANDWICH – For Dick Banning, the phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is more than a funny quote on a T-shirt. It’s his family’s annual tradition at the Sandwich Fair.
Banning and his wife, Virginia, volunteer every year at Open Door Rehabilitation Center’s lemon shake-up stand.
Banning, the president of Open Door’s board of directors, wears a T-shirt with the “make lemonade” quote, shorts with lemons on them and will wear a hat with a lemon on it this year, all to attract fairgoers over to the stand.
“We make a list of the fair food we want to eat, and we go to the fair every day,” Banning said. “Lemon shake-ups are only at fairs, we look forward to them every year.”
The stand is celebrating its 50th year at the fair. It can be found directly behind the main bleachers along the track, across from the main event ticket office at the fair. The 132nd Sandwich Fair runs Wednesday through Sept. 8.
To celebrate its anniversary, the stand will sell 16-ounce lemon shake-ups and sugar-free shake-ups for $2, bottled water, slices of Rosati’s pizza and a special souvenir 32-ounce cup for $5 that allows for $2 refills.
The cup will feature Open Door’s new logo and was sponsored by Rosati’s, Gjovik Chevrolet Buick GMC, State Farm’s Bob Wright and First National Bank.
The lemon shake-ups are made with cold water, ice, extra fine sugar, lemon juice and a wedge of freshly squeezed lemon.
The Open Door stand began in 1969 as an information booth, educating the public on Open Door’s mission. Always manned by volunteers, the stand has experimented with selling different types of food and beverages since it first began, including popcorn, nachos, chili and coffee. The stand first sold lemon shake-ups in the late ’70s or early ’80s.
“The stand tried selling many things in its early years, including fresh-popped popcorn in bulk bags,” said Kourtney Herren, Open Door’s marketing and development coordinator. “Just imagine, 50-pound bags of popcorn. Then they tried different food items until they settled on lemon shake-ups.”
Bud and Gladys Grandgeorge first had the idea of selling lemon shake-ups at the stand. They organized the fundraiser and recruited helpers from the Open Door parent’s group to run the stand. They hand-squeezed every lemon, and perfected the recipe with help from a team of Open Door supporters.
Through the years, the booth doubled in size, and liquid lemon juice was added to the lemon shake-up recipe for speed and consistency.
“The Sandwich Fair is all about tradition, and we’ve been there for 50 years,” Herren said. “Bud and Gladys Grandgeorge’s idea prevailed. The lemon shake-ups are a big part of our stand and one of our biggest fundraisers each year.”
For the stand to profit, Open Door accepts sponsorships for lemon shake-up ingredients: $125 for ice, $45 for a box of lemons or $30 for the fine sugar. All proceeds benefit Open Door’s services and programs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Open Door also has a My Buddy campaign, where the community can sponsor a client to attend the fair; $25 allows a client to attend a concert, and $9 covers admission.
“Every year, all of our 125 clients go to the fair. It’s something they look forward to; it’s the highlight of the year,” Herren said. “It’s a delight for our clients. They visit the barns with the animals, see shows, take their time and have fun at the fair. Some clients volunteer at the lemon shake-up stand. They love giving back to the community and helping out.”
Banning said that helping at the shake-up stand is more than a volunteer opportunity, it’s a social event and a way to have fun with like-minded people for a good cause.
“People come from all over to attend the Sandwich Fair,” Banning said. “I think the fair is a great draw for the community and a lot of fun. It will last a long, long time. As long as the fair lasts, Open Door will have a lemon shake-up stand.”
Anyone interested in donating or willing to volunteer for a shift at the fair can visit www.odrc.org or call 815-786-8468.
Source: The Daily Chronicle