No Cary Methodist Church Ham Cookies at NC State Fair
Hungry patrons will find plenty of great things to eat at this year’s NC State Fair, but one thing they won’t find is the iconic Cary Methodist Church ham cookie.
The church stand, a partnership of the First United Methodist Church of Cary and White Plains United Methodist Church, is not open to serve food this year.
Instead, the space is used to administer free COVID-19 vaccines by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Wake County Department of Health, and FEMA.
But the stand is not closed because of the vaccines. The decision not to open – a joint decision made by the two churches – was to ensure the safety of the church volunteers who run the booth.
Rob Phillips, the pastor of invitation and engagement at White Plains United Methodist Church, told The News & Observer that after learning the fair would not require proof of vaccination or masks , “A lot of our volunteers in both churches were very nervous about this.”
” We will miss it ”
Phillips said they had talked about switching to a take-out model just to hold the cookies, but in the end, safety concerns outweighed any benefit.
“We will miss it,” said Phillips, “but in the end we thought it was the best decision to make so as not to hurt our volunteers.”
The stand is part of a row of several connected buildings on the fairground that offer indoor service and seating.
With the cookie-making operation on hold, church officials instead pitched the idea of ââa vaccination clinic to fair officials, and it was ultimately agreed that the space could be used for this purpose. .
The church cleaned up the booth and gave it a new coat of paint, and everything is now ready for its new role.
The church booth plans to return next year, Phillips said.
âThe fair has agreed to refund our deposit and reserve our space for next year,â he said. “So we can continue to offer the ham cookies you love so much next year.” “
A long tradition at the fair
Cary’s First United Methodist Church began serving food at the North Carolina State Fair in 1916, making it the oldest vendor at the fair.
A report published in The News & Observer in 2015, as the church was about to begin its 100th year at the fair, notes that church historian Bob Warner believes the ham cookies appeared for the first on the menu in the 1950s, when the minister’s wife said she knew of someone who could provide good country hams.
God bless this woman.
It takes about 100 volunteers every day to cook and serve food, run cash registers and clean up at the end of the night.
The stand typically serves a full sit-down breakfast menu each morning of the fair (except Sunday) followed by a lunch and dinner menu until closing. But the ham cookies – available all day – are the stars of the show.
Last fall, when the fair closed due to the pandemic, the church offered virtual cookie-making classes online for those who couldn’t bear to go another year without the fluffy goodness.
Each year, proceeds from the booth are used to support the local and world ministries of each church.
âWe were very sad to miss it last year,â said Phillips. “It supports our ministries, but it was also a huge opportunity for fellowship – a chance to shake hands and meet people, and we missed it very much.”
Other sellers will not attend the show this year
State fair officials say more than 50 vendors have pulled out of the fair this year, but have added new vendors to fill the positions, including 40 new food vendors.
Other well-known vendors absent from the show this year include Anderson & Daughters, Raleigh Jaycees Turkey Shoot and La Farm Bakery.
Oak City Fish and Chips, Ezzelle’s, and Emma’s Cookie Kitchen are among the new sellers this year.
“For the fairgoer, there are no holes in the field, it’s a complete fair,” said Andrea Ashby, director of public affairs for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.