Sweet treats served at the Nutty Bar Stand at the Jackson County Fair have cooled off fairgoers for nearly 60 years.
In hopes of this year’s fair going off without a hitch July 25 to 31, the organization that benefits from sales at the stand, Psi Iota Xi Beta Mu chapter of Brownstown, is planning upgrades to its building that’s tucked between the midway and Building 3.
Chairwoman Jeanna Eppley said the changes include demolishing and rebuilding.
“Our current building is a little block building constructed well over 50 years ago,” she said. “The concrete floor is cracking and causing the mortar to deteriorate in places. The sides of the building have to be lifted open, which is difficult for many of our members, and they sit low. It is time to overhaul and update.”
She said they are looking for builders to provide quotes.
“We have been saving some money; however, as a not-for-profit sending our fundraised money to the community, we need to find the best deal out there,” Eppley said. “We are working on some grants and some other financing options.”
She said it would be great to have the stand built before this year’s fair.
“We would like to start ASAP,” she said. “It should be a relatively quick project.”
When the Jackson County Fair Association board recently met, President Tom Martin said he would like for the sorority to submit the building plans so the layout and materials can be approved by the executive committee. The board also agreed it would be good to double-check with the midway vendor, Poor Jack Amusements, to ensure the new stand doesn’t impact their layout.
The sorority feels the new structure will draw more people and increase sales.
“It will be a facelift to give a fresh, new feeling to the grounds,” Eppley said. “Our Nutty Bars have been a hidden treasure for over 50 years. Our stand sits by the carnival, so an update to electrical and lighting might help us stand out a bit.”
The Nutty Bar Stand has been a fixture at the fair since the 1960s.
It started 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.
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.
Ever since the Jaycees group folded, the sorority has run the stand.
Today, the group’s members work together to offer the cool, tasty, handmade treat at the fair. The fair board made a rule years ago that no other booth could sell Nutty Bars.
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 they are dipped in chocolate and set before rolling in nuts or remaining plain.
If all of them aren’t sold during the fair, the sorority sells them in bunches afterwards.
The stand also sells 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.