Sometimes we use food to mark the passage of time or change of seasons.
For example traditional candy canes at Christmas, pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and jelly beans at Easter. Or maybe a family favorite like grandma’s dark chocolate cake with penuche frosting for a birthday celebration.
The hot, sticky, melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon and sugar puff of an elephant ear pastry marks the end of summer for many in the Bitterroot Valley. The Bitterroot Swim Team has sold them at the Ravalli County Fair for decades.
With the cancellation of the fair, the Bitterroot Swim Team has decided to keep the tradition alive and is selling elephant ears at Bitterroot Aquatic Center, 59 Kurtz Ln, Hamilton, on Saturday, August 29.
The sale will run 11 a.m. until they run out of dough (possibly 4 p.m.) and customers will drive-through the BAC parking lot, never leaving their car.
As is tradition, the elephant ear project is a call for all-hands and everyone associated with the Bitterroot Swim Team pitches in to help. Older kids will stretch the dough, parents and board members will do the frying, and the younger members will sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar and sell the product.
To avoid people sharing and touching items, there will be no butter and honey onsite. There will be no other items for sale but there will be napkins.
This coronavirus pandemic year was different for the swim team that had 50 swimmers but no swim meets or travel.
“We had 50 swimmers religiously show up to practice,” said Deana Wolfe BST parent. “Basically, they came to stay in shape and to have something to do.”
Wolfe said the team was disappointed when the fair was canceled and they realized they wouldn’t have their elephant ear booth.
“Not just for the monetary gain that we get from the fair, but it is pretty fun when we were all there together doing our thing,” she said. “But [the elephant ear sale on Saturday] is just a little taste of it and maybe we’ll do another one.”
On Saturday, BST will set up their big tents that they use for swim meets to provide shade for their swimmers, plug in their fryers from their fair booth outside on the lawn and serve customers in their vehicles as they drive through the BAC parking lot.
“Fern [Schrenkendgust, pool manager] has been awesome about this,” Wolfe said.
Elephant ears cost $4 each just like at the Ravalli County Fair.
Drive through the BAC, get your elephant ears, take them home, add butter and honey and taste the warm yumminess that signals the end of summer.
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