Tucked between the midway and Building 3, the Nutty Bar Stand has been a fixture at the Jackson County Fair since the 1960s.
It started nearby under a brown canvas tent with one freezer, a counter and a cash register and was operated by Thompson Dairy Co. in Seymour and manned by Morris Mullin and his wife.
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As business grew at the ice cream bar stand, they contacted the Brownstown Jaycees to help. It kept growing to the point where the fair board constructed a new building, which is the one still used today, and the Jaycees asked for assistance from Psi Iota Xi Beta Mu chapter of Brownstown.
Ever since the Jaycees group folded, the sorority has run the stand.
Today, the group’s 30-plus active members work together to offer the cool, tasty treat at the fair.
“People just know about it. It is homemade, and you get your money’s worth,” said Mary Sue Spurgeon, an honorary member of the sorority. “You get good ice cream, and it’s all handmade. It’s not store-bought. It’s very popular.”
Nowadays, sorority members make around 1,400 Nutty Bars to sell — some dipped in chocolate with nuts and some without nuts.
The week before the fair, members spend about four hours at the stand making the Nutty Bars. One person makes 12 blocks in a half-gallon of ice cream, and another one puts them on sticks.
“Then you put them down in the gooey, yummy chocolate, and then you set it, roll it in nuts or keep them plain and you do that process until these things are filled,” honorary sorority member Jan Willey said while opening the door to a refrigerator. “Then they won’t make them again until they empty some of this out.”
Sorority member Karen VonDielingen said they have sold out some years. When that doesn’t happen, the leftovers are sold in bunches after the fair.
“By the time Friday comes, you’ve got to really judge how many you’re going to sell because you’ve got to have some for Saturday. If you sell out, fine,” Willey said.
“If we can see on Saturday that we’re not going to sell out, we’ll start bagging them up, like 10 in a bag,” sorority member Alicia Reedy said, noting members and others will buy them.
The stand is open from noon to 10 p.m. each day of the fair, which runs through Saturday. They also sell strawberry, chocolate and vanilla ice cream cups, Popsicles and drinks.
Proceeds are used to support the sorority’s causes of speech, hearing and music. The group also awards scholarships to local students.
“They just do all different things for the community. The money all goes back into the community,” Willey said. “They have to spend their budget for the year. You have to. That’s the rules.”
Years ago, the fair board made it a rule that no other booth could sell Nutty Bars. That has boded well for the sorority.
“We just had a customer tonight that said, ‘Don’t ever close,’ so that speaks volumes,” Reedy said Monday night. “A lot of people are like, ‘I’m here for my yearly Nutty Bar,’ so we have a lot of repeat business.”