I'm guessing the meal, prepared by Thelma Saxton and her Carpenters Hall crew, was the highlight for most who attended last evening's Taste of Southern Iowa expo and banquet. But there was live music, too, provided by (among others) Dave Fletcher, left, who for some reason when considering careers decided to deal in insurance rather than perform on the road. He's actually good enough to do the latter.
Everything in the buffet line was locally produced and/or fresh from the garden --- in the salad area ranging from greens and cottage cheese to butter for the homemade bread. The vegetable selection was sufficiently varied that even my vegetarian friends had plenty to eat --- fresh green beans, summers squash, carrots and potatoes. For meat-eaters, there was locally produced ham, beef brisket and chicken. Several varieties of homemade pie (including gooseberry) and homemade ice cream for dessert.
Not a bad deal for $10, providing you bought an advanced ticket.
But it was fun to wander around the booths of the various exhibitors, too, to see and sample some of the products that are produced regionally.
Can't imagine why, but the the Hy-Vee-sponsored table where product samples from regional wineries and brew pubs were available, seemed especially popular.
Osceola's Timber Ridge Cattle Co., which offers a variety of flax-fed beef products, was represented with a huge display of snack items.
Gayle Curtis, of rural Chariton --- a certified master herbalist --- was there with various teas and selections of herbs for a whole range of purposes.
Schneider Orchard, located south of Newbern, brought along apples and a variety of related products to sample and sell.
Jill Kerns, who offers a variety of regionally produced foods at her Piper's on the square, brought along in addition to her own homemade candies honey from Allerton, canned meats from Pella and noodles from both Albia and Kalona.
And representatives from Tourism Lucas County, Don Garrett (left) and Lyle Asell, were there to hand out maps of entries in the hay bale decorating contest now in progress.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Tourism Lucas County and the South Central Iowa Area Partnership were among the sponsors.
The next big opportunity to involve yourself in the local products scene will be the annual Farm Crawl in northern Lucas and southern Warren and Marion counties on Sunday, Oct. 6. This year's stops (between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.) will be Blue Gate Farm, Coyote Run Farm, Crooked Gap Farm, Dan-D Farm, Pierce's Pumpkin Patch, Reichert's Dairy Air, Schneider Orchard and White Breast Pottery and Weaving.