September 9, 2013

Our Neighbors: The dumplings are coming, the dumplings are coming

By Carol Mills
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Dumplings will be charging into the World Chicken Festival in London on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. — just in time for lunch.

The dumplings will arrive at a booth manned by the Swiss Descendant’s Club in front of Bob’s Ready to Wear on Main Street. A big bowl of chicken and dumplings and a big piece of cornbread will be $5.

Selling chicken and dumplings at the WCF is the way members of the Swiss Descendant’s Club make most of the money used to upkeep their building. They have been doing this since the beginning of the WCF 24 years ago.

Club members use 25, 5-pound bags of flour and 160 pounds of chicken. The ladies were making chicken and dumplings Wednesday in preparation of the festival. Dumpling strips and cooked chicken are frozen until they are needed.

“We roll out the dumplings ahead of time and freeze them so that we can just break them up and put them into a hot canner of chicken broth each day of the festival,” said 83-year-old Jenny Bowling. “We couldn’t do this if we didn’t do it ahead of time. We always run out, but we can’t make any more because it’s too hard on us.”

Debbie Martin, coordinator of the food, said they are trying to get some younger club members to participate in the dumpling making.

Club members prepare the dumplings in eight big canners a day and make seven trips a day from the clubhouse off west Ky. 80 to deliver the fresh dumplings at their booth. While the ladies make the dumplings, the men folk help carry big hot pans of chicken to a table to be cooled down so that the meat can be stripped down. The men also help in the stripping and in the deliveries.

Bowling and Pauline Konitzer, 87, said the club also makes hot dogs and chili, pinto beans, buns with Robinson smoked sausage, funnel cakes, other fresh cakes, and other desserts.

Martin said customers will approach their booth at 8 and 9 a.m. asking when the dumplings will be ready.

Wednesday there were 12 to 15 club members helping prepare the chicken and dumplings to go into the freezer.

“We couldn’t do it without all the volunteers,” Martin said. “It takes 10 to 20 to run the booth and do the transporting.”

Club members who are deceased who helped out over the years with the dumpling making are Hilda and Alfred Keller, Eleschia Brown, Wilma Keller, Shirley Bill, Loretta and Carl Keller, Bernice Schott, Irene Herron, and many others, Martin said.

“We try to keep our Swiss heritage alive,” Martin added. “We have a big Swiss dance every summer.”

The president of the Swiss Descendant’s Club is Paul Brown; Jesse Keller is the vice-president; David Wesley, treasurer; and Irene Wilkerson, secretary.