Hambden Grange Keeps Agricultural Tradition Alive
August 26, 2021 by Rose Nemunaitis

If you’ve been to the Great Geauga County Fair, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve been to one of the longest running and most popular food booths there.

If you’ve been to the Great Geauga County Fair, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve been to one of the longest running and most popular food booths there.

The Hambden Grange booth, open Sept. 1-6 until the closing of the fair,  is located on the hill by the Domestic Arts and Band Pavilion.

Granges, formerly known as the patrons of husbandry, were established in the late 19th century to assist farmers and early leaders were responsible for promoting cooperatives, which could help farmers economically, according to Ohio History Connection.

Hambden Grange on state Route 608 is a family, local community, grassroots organization chartered in 1929 by several community members after they purchased the building originally built and used as a creamery for the area.

“The hall has a historic and sentimental appeal to many in the community,” Hambden Grange secretary Barb Palmer said. “We have come a long way since the early days, and have tried to revitalize our building and our grange program. Hambden Grange members are interested in helping preserve our community.”

Some of the early members passed the grange legacy onto the next generation to help preserve a piece of local history and memories of special events. The grange was a place to gather, share a fundraiser meal, plans of planting and harvest, assisting a family in need and camaraderie among members, family and friends, Palmer said.

“It hosted dances each month with bands playing Bluegrass, polkas, waltz and the all important jitterbug of that era,” she said. “All shared in our early days challenges of community and country living and some of the early families are still in Hambden several generations later.”

In addition to their food booth, the grange is a partner in the Geauga Learn Program for sixth-grade students in selected school districts during the fair’s “Youth Day” Sept. 2, and provides lunches for more than 450 students and staff.

A bagged lunch is served with a hot dog, chips, wrapped cookie, apple (provided by Sage’s Apples) and bottled water (provided by Sunrise Springs and Arms Trucking).

“During the fair, we need volunteers to assist in prep and serving our clients,” Palmer said. “Some of our volunteers return each year and it is a great community service project for required graduation hours.”

Kirtland’s Carolyn Arwood said she looks forward to volunteering every year.

“I enjoy the people, both the workers and the customers,” Arwood said. “We have great teamwork. I always enjoy meeting new people, as well as seeing old friends, and working at the grange food booth allows me to do both.”

Since her parents were both very active in the Hambden Grange, she holds fond memories, along with her sister, Norma White, who lives in Port Charlotte, Fla.

The food menu features Black Angus burgers, a BLT with homegrown Amish tomatoes, fried bologna, hot dogs, homemade baked beans. The grange partners with Mary Yoder’s Amish Kitchen in Middlefield, serving approximately 20 fruit pies per day.

They also serve breakfast each morning featuring pancakes, French toast, corned beef hash, sausage gravy and biscuits.

“If you are willing to help for a minimum of six hours, we will not only pay your admission if needed, we will feed you,” Palmer added.

Hambden Township Trustee Paul Molan said in years he’s been involved with the Hambden Grange, he has happily seen many returning faces.

“They just rave about the burgers and the homemade pies,” Molan said. “People will make the Hambden Grange their last stop before leaving the fair to get another piece or two of their favorite flavor of pie for tomorrow morning’s breakfast or lunch. So give Barb Palmer a call sometime to volunteer at the Hambden Grange booth to start your own memories.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has prohibited many events in the last year, this year‘s Bluegrass Jamboree is scheduled for the fourth Saturday in October and the first Grange Pancake Breakfast will be held Nov. 7.

“Bring a friend,” Palmer said. “We have fun, laugh and serve our customers with a smile.”

Hambden Grange is in need of volunteers to help at this year’s fair booth.

“Your help is greatly appreciated,” Palmer said.

Contact Barb at 216-210-2873 for more details.