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Valley Groups Say The World Ag Expo Is The Best Fundraiser

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Ezra David Romero
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Valley Public Radio
The Kaweah River Senior Drill Team rides horses in parades and shows across California. They fundraise every year at the World Ag Expo.

It’s the second day of the World Ag Expo in Tulare. People from around the globe come to the three day event to experience the latest in agricultural technology.  All these farmer types get hungry and that’s why food is a big deal at the show. Think giant steak sandwiches, cinnamon rolls and beer.  FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports that for some community groups all those hungry people make for a big fundraiser.

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Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio
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Valley Public Radio
Linda Hammel, 71, came up with the idea for the Dutch oven cobbler fundraiser.

Nancy Hammel’s peach cobbler sold at the World Ag Expo is baked on site.

“We are making Dutch oven cobbler,” Hammel says. “We use charcoal briquettes to cook it on.”

The smell of the cobbler wafts through the air as people walk by luring in attendees who line up to buy the dessert. Modesto Almond Grower Clayton Johns explains why.

“It definitely has a homemade taste like that’s what I’m used to, made over a fire,” Johns says. “You kind of get a good flavor that way. It’s really good. Oh, yeah.”

The Kaweah River Senior Drill Team from Visalia has sold the cobbler as a fundraiser for over 10 years. They use the money raised for things like competition fees.

“The drill team is kind of like a square dance on horses,” Hammel says. “We are judged how well our horses work, how we do the drill, how we ride.”

"A lot of folks that come they just stand in the smoke and watch because they're intrigued that something to think that so yummy can just come out of that cast iron pot, but they don't know though our ancestors cooked everything in a cast iron pot."

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Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio
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Valley Public Radio
Organizations from across Central California sell food and drink at the expo.

Last year they cooked up 725 cobblers. At $7 per serving the team gross over $30,000. The profit made from this gooey creation is large enough to keep the group from having to fundraise for the rest of the year. 

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Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio
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Valley Public Radio

Hammel took the idea for the cobbler from her husband who belongs to a Dutch oven cooking club. The cooking process starts off with one gallon cans of sliced peaches.

“They open those, drain them and put half in two ovens,” says Hammel. “Then you add some more juice and we have a cake mix topping. We use real butter. They go out to the guys and the cook them.”

They take the large pots out of the kitchen and place and place them on metal tables full of hot coals.

“Every so often they have to turn the lids so that it cooks evenly and they’ll pick up the pots and turn it as well,” says Hammel.

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Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio
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Valley Public Radio

Once the cobblers are ready attendees have the option to order a scoop with vanilla ice cream.  Hammel says the expo attendees love learning about the history behind the Dutch oven.

“A lot of folks that come they just stand in the smoke and watch because they’re intrigued that something to think that so yummy can just come out of that cast iron pot, but they don’t know though our ancestors cooked everything in a cast iron pot,” Hammel says.

She hopes her crew will sell more cobbler this year so her club can perform in even more parades and fairs.

Ezra David Romero is an award-winning radio reporter and producer. His stories have run on Morning Edition, Morning Edition Saturday, Morning Edition Sunday, All Things Considered, Here & Now, The Salt, Latino USA, KQED, KALW, Harvest Public Radio, etc.