Ripley County commended for generosity
Record crowd attends cooking school

Wanda English Burnett

A record crowd attended the 2009 Taste of Home cooking school last Thursday at the South Ripley Elementary School, Versailles.

Culinary Specialist Dana Elliott kept the crowd of nearly 800 entertained and informed as she demonstrated eight easy recipes.

Elliott complimented the generosity of the people who attended the show who participated in the Cooks Who Care campaign bringing canned goods to the event. The bucket (a large decorated trash can) was full and overflowed onto the floor with non-perishable food that was taken to the Fishes & Loaves Food Pantry in Osgood.

“This is the first show I’ve done where people have participated in this - it’s just wonderful,” Elliott commended the crowd.

The show, which lasted about two hours, was lively as Elliott demonstrated not only how to make holiday recipes, but added wit and humor.

Before the show began attendees began lining up early to gain optimal seating. The crowd stretched through the elementary school hallways, which provided shelter from the weather for those who waited.

At 5 p.m. the doors opened with patient participants getting front row seats to see “Festive in a Flash” Holiday Shortcuts.

The atmosphere was festive as holiday music was played on the piano by Karen Reynolds. Nineteen booths were open for people to browse, sample goodies, sign up for additional prizes and do a little before Thanksgiving Christmas shopping.

Ripley Publishing Co. Publisher Linda Chandler was thrilled with the turn out from the national and local businesses who put so much effort into it for those who came for the show. “This was the best show ever,” she noted as the evening wound down.

Every attendee received valuable coupons, samples and three free magazines. Over 80 door prizes were given away from a number of gift certificates to a freezer, donated by Southeastern Indiana REMC. Melissa Baker of Milan was the lucky recipient of the freezer.

Darlene Luers of Osgood was the happy winner of a microwave, provided by Ripley Publishing Co. “This is great, my son will be going to college and this is perfect,” she smiled as she came on stage to claim her prize.

Bags of groceries from the Versailles Super Valu and multiple other prizes including the prepared dishes by Elliott were all given away.

An event of this magnitude isn’t put together by one person - or even one group. Chandler noted that the community spirit is alive and well in Ripley County as a number of people worked together for the event.

The local sponsors were touted throughout the evening and thanked for their generosity. Chandler specifically thanked the South Ripley School Corporation, the staff and high school students who volunteered. “The students were outstanding,” she noted.

Pleak’s Do-It Center, Greensburg, provided appliances for the stage as well as a reclining chair, which was a hit.

Local ladies volunteered their time during the day for early preparation and then again during the show. A special thanks goes out to Joyce Taylor, June Kieffer, Marilyn Browning, Stella Menchhofer, and Karen Owen for all their help.

Chandler praised the excellent job by Dana Elliott as was evidenced in rave reviews on her Taste of Home website after the show.

Comments such as “I had a blast,” “It was loads of fun,” were heard as attendees enjoyed the ease with which the culinary specialist presented the show. One lady said, “I had fun and learned a lot.”
Already people are asking, “When is the next cooking school?”

Ripley Publishing Co., publishers of the Osgood Journal and The Versailles Republican, is the media sponsor for the show and hopes to be able to again offer the opportunity to the community. The schedule is set by Taste of Home and usually is every other year.

Future cooking school events will be announced early in your local newspapers, the Osgood Journal and The Versailles Republican.

ABOVE: The large crowd at the Taste of Home cooking school held up their magazines each attendee received in their goodie bag as Dana Elliott welcomed everyone to the event that saw cooks laughing and learning.
BELOW: Culinary Specialist Dana Elliott prepared eight festive holiday dishes for the crowd. Throughout the presentation numerous prizes were drawn for door prizes that ranged from bags of groceries to a freezer. The show was hailed as one of the best ever with participants looking forward to the next one.