Poland United Methodist Church has been a regular at the Canfield Fair for almost 60 years. Today, it has downsized and has a different goal than when it started.
Concession volunteer Marty Matteson said it all started in the mid-1950s. The church suffered a terrible fire that destroyed the old structure and required building a new church. That was done, but the church had to come up with a way to pay the mortgage for the new building.
"After the fire, the church members got together and used the fair to help pay the mortgage," Matteson said.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Five-year-old Westley Cowles of Poland, helped out at the Poland United Methodist Church trailer at the Canfield Fairgrounds by delivering a tasty apple dumpling to volunteer Marty Metteson. The church has been at the Canfield Fair since the mid-1950s.
He said the first concession at the fair was a large tent where fairgoers could purchase dinners, pies, and cakes. Church members all volunteered to work it and they raised the funds to meet the mortgage payments. They kept it going to help raise funds for missions, but it was shrinking. Fifteen years ago, the tent was abandoned for a mobile concession trailer.
"We now raise funds to help with our kids' club and youth programs at the church," Matteson said.
The trailer is still staffed by volunteers that range from the youngest at 16 to the oldest at 85. They only offer fresh-brewed sweat tea and apple dumplings now and the money coming in is minimal, but Matteson said there is another mission for being at the fair.
"This is more about fellowship and meeting people now," he said.
The trailer that was used 15 years ago was a big one and was too costly to operate. After last year's fair, the church members bought a smaller one and outfitted it. It saw its first use last week and is now back in storage until next year's fair.
"We only use it for the fair," Matteson said. "After that it goes back into storage."
At the fair the trailer is set up on the same location the church has been at since it started at the corner of Smith and Bishops roads.
"It is where we started," Matteson said.