Seeing the sights at the Farm Progress Show can create an appetite.
You will find plenty of food around the grounds to satisfy almost any craving.
"There are four food courts on the show grounds, three of which will be run by Nelson's Catering and Fund Raising," says Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress national events manager. "The fourth will be managed by the Macon County 4-H and Extension group."
In both cases local churches and youth groups benefit from the profits. Nelson's will provide all the equipment and supplies and utilize local non-profit organizations to help with food preparation and sales. The Macon County 4-H and Extension group will have to secure everything on their own.
Started in the Depression
Nelson's, headquartered in Wakarusa, Indiana, has a long history of catering special events. As a manager of a small poultry processing plant during the Great Depression, Nelson Gongwer continuously toyed with new and innovative ways to promote poultry products. He was convinced there was a better way to cook large quantities of chicken while still maintaining the high quality only found in "grandma's" kitchen. Eventually, in 1967, Nelson accomplished exactly what he had set out to do, and the Port-A-Pit system and Nelson's Food Service Corporation were born.
By the 1980s, under the leadership of Dean Gongwer, Nelson's son, the company was preparing more than 500,000 halves of chicken annually at fundraisers, corporate caterings and other special events in Indiana and Michigan.
Dean's son, Tad Nelson Gongwer, took over the third-generation, family-owned company in 1997. Nelson's now serves more than 1.2 million halves of chicken through its fundraising and catering services from Indianapolis to northern Michigan every year.
100 helpers per day
Macon County 4-H and Extension volunteers helped with food courts in 2005 and 2007 when the Farm Progress Show was in Decatur. In 2009, 2011 and 2013 the group took on the whole food court instead of just providing volunteers – the Southwest Food Court.
"We are expecting approximately 100 4-H and Extension volunteers each day," says Amy Leman, Unit Educator, 4-H Youth Development in Macon County. "We use an Illinois meat packer so we have high quality products. Extension funding is still tenuous in the Illinois due to state budget issues, so the Farm Progress Show is a great help to us locally. Our only menu change is this year we will be selling Porkburgers instead of BBQ pork sandwiches.
"Our volunteers that greatly enjoy it and feel this is our opportunity to help the Farm Progress Show give back to our community and support our programs," adds Leman. "We are very excited about the opportunity."
The volunteers come under the umbrella of the Macon County 4-H and Extension Foundation. "Profits from the Farm Progress Show food court will go to the Foundation to support 4-H and Extension in Macon County," notes Leman. "So, this is a great opportunity to help keep 4-H going and support 4-H and Extension programs in Macon County."
The Macon County group will serve basically the same menu as the food courts run by Nelson's with the exception of the BBQ chicken breast. "Our menu is the same but our food will come from different sources," says Leman. "We are expanding our breakfast menu to include biscuits and gravy."
The more than 100 volunteers needed each day will be made up of junior high and high school 4-Hers working alongside adults.
Farm Progress 2015 Menu
Three food courts – Nelson's Catering
1. 1/3 Pound Cheeseburger $7.00
2. Boneless Pork Chop Sandwich $7.00
3. BBQ Chicken Breast Sandwich $7.00
4. Fresh Pulled Pork Sandwich $7.00
1. Pit-Tatoes® $4.00
2. Potato Chips $2.00
1. Ice Cream Cup 12 oz. $4.00
(Chocolate Malt or Cookies & Cream)
2. Lemon or Cherry Ice Chill $4.00
3. Ice Cream Neapolitan Sandwich $3.00
1. Coke Products 20 oz. $3.00
Powerade Mt. Blast
Powerade Fruit Punch
2. Water 20 oz. $3.00
3. White or Chocolate Milk $3.00
1. 20# Bag of Ice $8.00
Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit Sandwich $4.00
Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit Sandwich $4.00
Southwest Food Court – Macon County 4-H and Extension
Boneless Pork Chop Sandwich $7.00
All Meat Hot Dog $4.00
Cheese & Veggie Wrap $7.00
Chips - $1.00
Cookie - $1.00
Apple - $1.00
Coca Cola Products - $3.00
Powerade - $3.00
Water - $3.00
Milk (Chocolate or 2%) - $3.00
Biscuits & Gravy - $4.00
Sausage & Cheese Biscuit - $4.00
Orange Juice/Apple Juice—$2.00