RICHMOND – Christal Milligan and Samantha Doss pull the lids off several boxes that each contain dozens of cookies.
Warm, soft, delicious chocolate chip cookies.
Other cookies, too.
The disks of goodness are spread across two tables for the scores of people who begin piling into the pole barn at the Ray County Fairgrounds for the Annual Farmers Appreciation Dinner.
“We bake them,” Milligan says, at Oak Ridge Assisted Living.
“It was hot in that kitchen, let me tell you,” Doss says.
Oak Ridge, like other businesses, provide food for the free dinner for good reason, Milligan says.
“We want to honor our farmers and let them know Oak Ridge is here to help,” she says.
Rep. Peggy McGaugh stands at the front of the serving line. She hands out plates and cutlery for people who line up for barbecue from Nadlers, hotdogs, baked beans and other items.
“This is the fun part” of the public servant job, she says.
After going through the food line, most of the roughly 300 guests stop by a tub filled with ice, with cold beverages served by the 2019 Ray County Fair queen, Isabelle Rogers.
The Richmond Chamber of Commerce sponsors the dinner.
“The Chambers wants to show support to the agricultural community because we realize they make a significant contribution to the economy of Ray County and Richmond,” chamber Director Natalie Lamar says. “We want to thank the volunteers who came and helped serve the community.”
After serving, McGaugh recognized the Ray County Fair Association for 50 years of community service.
With a plate of food in hand, Jami Penny says the dinner and fair are always fun.
“The good and the kids getting to sell their animals” keep her coming back, she says.
Beverly Phipps, coming off the food line, offers the same perspective.
“I do love this (dinner),” she says, “but I love the auctions, too.”
Kenny Hoard, 83, says he has been coming to the appreciation dinner since the start 50 years ago. He used to compete in demolition derbies, but not these days.
“I’m too old for it,” Hoard says.
But he is not too old to enjoy the dinner.
“(I come) just to see the people and the animals and the fellowship,” he says. “These are good times.”
LOOK FOR COMPLETE COVERAGE OF THE RAY COUNTY FAIR IN OUR ANNUAL FAIR EDITION IN AUGUST.