PORT ROYAL, Pa. — If there are two things people head to Port Royal for during the fair week, it's the racing and the food.
The popularity of the Port Royal Lutheran Church stand continues to grow, year-after-year.
The church stand has been a staple, filling bellies at the Juniata Fair. The fair has been around for 169 years, but it wasn't until 1935, 93 years ago, that the church stand got its start on the fairgrounds.
“One person said it well on social media, yesterday. You can always buy a burger and fries at a track but you can’t get a homemade cooked meal, with your pie on the side. “And made with love from Grandma Gayle.” “Grandma Gayle makes the chicken corn soup, every day, fresh. She goes through two canners of soup a day," said Shanna Verner, a fourth generation helping with the stand and driver Dylan Cisney's sister.
It's a family affair in the kitchen for the Cisney's, all starting at a very young age, helping out at the fair.
The church stand is busy from the time it opens at 11 A.M. and until 7 P.M., or until they run out of food. They set a record for their earliest sell out just after 3 P.M. on the final day. Even after preparing even more food, this year.
“(On the final day) We had so much food that we thought we’d be good until at least six," said Grandma Gayle Cisney.
The stand dished out a total of 6,000 meals during the fair week. It takes an army to start preparing the corn in August to get ready for next year. The rest of the work starts in the spring for the following fair week.
“It’s really important for us, as a church and the racing community, that we continue the tradition for years to come," said Shanna Verner.
Even the drivers know where to get the best food.
“Th church stand. Definitely, the church stand," said Kody Lehman.
Even if some are watching their weight.
“I used to look forward to the fair food but I’m trying to watch my girlish figure. So, I haven’t eaten much fair food, this week. Just the atmosphere. It’s a cool event," said Justin Peck, driver of the Buch Motorsports No. 13.
The drivers all know the significance of having the Tuscarora 50 to close out the fair week.
“It’s really cool to see all the people here. I love coming to the Tuscarora 50. It’s a lot of fun," said Zeb Wise, driver of the Rudeen Racing No. 26.
“I just love seeing the environment, that it creates, by having so many people here," said Ryan Taylor, driver of the Ryan Taylor Racing No. 20.
“Just the atmosphere and there’s so many people here and it’s such a good time," said Gerard McIntyer, driver of the No. 33 410 sprint car.
Unfortunately, the weather had other plans to steal the racing away from the Tuscarora 50. The race will be rescheduled for later this season.
Only Friday nights race was able to dodge the rain drops. Logan Wagner and Lance Dewease battle for second. Something you never want to see leading. The caution came out when Aaron Reutzel blew a tire. Devon Borden was too close to him and ran in the back of Reutzel as they both went spinning down the backstretch.
Dewease was making his way from seventh. On the restart, Tyler Courtney read Dewease like a book. He went just low enough to cut his run off. Courtney picked up his first All-Star win at the Speed Palace.
Rewind to the beginning of the week to the Labor Day Classic at Port. Cisney, from eighth, passed Mike Walter for the lead. Next lap, Walter stole the lead back coming out of two. But, a lap later, Walter missed his mark and locked up trying to hold on to the car. That allowed Cisney to sneak back under as the mayor won his first Labor Day Classic.
After the highest of highs, sweeping a weekend, then finishing outside the top ten three races in a row, Shark Racing's Logan Schuchart battled Brad Sweet the first few laps. Schuchart was able to pull away and win at Grays Harbor on Monday.