EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Everyone makes a beeline for their favorites at the Fall Festival, but not everyone realizes what goes into preparing all of that food.
4 a.m. comes quickly during the first full week of October, especially for members of the Forest Hills Wesleyan Church.
“It’s just a daily thing during the fall festival," said Reitz Sophomore and church member Sydney Hart. "We all prepare ourselves. It gets hard at the end of the week getting up so early but other than that it’s fun.”
The sounds of an alarm quickly give way to the sounds of a kitchen, mass-producing chicken dumplings. The same sounds that Debbie Hart has heard for 31 years.
“My mom and dad made the first batch of dumplings to go down on Franklin Street, and then we went into mass production," Debbie said. "They made 5 gallons of dumplings and then made them at their house and they thought that was plenty, but we were out before noon.”
Debbie says the group learned from their mistakes and now produce 80 gallons of chicken and dumplings each day during the Fall Festival, and according to Hart, that might not even be enough. The group sold out of dumplings during the first two days of the 2019 Fall Festival.
Hart said she wouldn’t be able to produce so much without the help she receives, much of that help coming from youth members of the church.
“We go to school right after," said Sydney Hart. "We start getting ready around 6:30 and we go to school at 7. We don’t get off until 2:30 and then most of us go down and work a night shift.”
There’s an incentive for their dedication. All the proceeds from the booth go towards funding youth activities such as get-a-ways, retreats, and other fun events that happen throughout the year. The more shifts a member works, the less money they have to pay to go on these trips.
“I am very proud,” Debbie Hart said. "Some of them are blood some of them aren’t but they’re all family and I love them all. I am very proud of them and proud of their dedication.”