Arts and Crafts Fair is Saturday in Hillsboro
Many people attend the Arts and Crafts Fair to shop, and many attend to enjoy the variety of unique foods sold at the fair.
Dale Franz and his assistants — Dorothy Parks and newcomer Michel Luman — at Dale’s Supermarket have been making smoked German sausage for almost four weeks in preparation for a big run during Saturday’s fair.
The fair began 40 years ago, in 1969. The German sausage began to become popular in the mid-1970s, Franz said. Sales have grown exponentially since then.
Franz expects about 500 pounds will be sold through four vendors. Another 1,800 pounds may be sold in-store, fresh or frozen.
“It’s a very, very big day,” he said.
Hillsboro Kiwanis Club serves sausage sandwiches in the supermarket’s parking lot; Friends of the Museums serves it fried and on a stick from a booth; Tabor Women’s Auxiliary serves it as part of a German meal at Hillsboro Senior Center; and Trinity Mennonite Church includes it in its menu.
The pork is purchased coarsely ground, then re-ground and seasoned before being stuffed into natural hog casings. The large links are soaked in liquid smoke for two or three minutes, then hung in a cooler to air dry.
Franz said the process of preparing for the Arts and Crafts Fair is less hectic than it was the first few years. He said everything back then was sold fresh and had to be prepared in a two-week period.
Now, the sausage can be made earlier, packaged, and stored in a large freezer.
“It’s one thing we work really hard at,” Franz said. “We have customers all over the country. When local people take the sausage somewhere else and serve it, the people they serve become customers.”
Franz said business is steady throughout the year, so making sausage is a weekly routine.
Sometimes, people come from far away and bring coolers to load up on the sausage. One time, a couple living in Mexico visited relatives in Hillsboro and took 125 pounds back. Another time, travelers from Wyoming stopped and picked up 200 pounds on their way home from a trip to Iowa.
Former Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum (now married to Jim Baker) once served the sausage to a group of her Washington, D. C. colleagues. She ordered 50 pounds shipped overnight.
Franz is hoping the slower economy and high unemployment rate will not affect sales at the Arts and Crafts Fair.
“We are preparing for a really good day,” he said. “We just hope we have a few tubs left over to begin the next week with.”
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Hillsboro Arts and Crafts Fair, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, downtown Hillsboro.
Nearly 400 artists and craftspeople will display and sell their one-of-a-kind creations.
The fair is rated among the top 100 arts and crafts shows in the country.
Local food vendors will include Hillsboro’s famous smoked sausage, zwieback, bierocks, kettle corn, roasted almonds, freshly-squeezed lemonade, and funnel cakes.