Celebrating their heritage: Ethnic food, area’s history featured on Claysburg tour

Courtesy photo German spaetzle is similar to noodles. This photo shows it being made. The dish is very typical in the Swabian region of Germany south of Frankfurt.

By Cherie Hicks


Hungarian goulash, German spaetzle, Italian thumb print cookies and Lebanon bologna are just a few of the dishes that will be served at a new event in Claysburg that will highlight the ethnic diversity of this southern Blair County community.

Most of the original residents were of German origin, followed by Eastern European and Italian.

Organizers of the inaugural Ethnic Gourmet Food and History Tour expect a sellout crowd with only 200 tickets available at $30 each, said Rich Allison with the Claysburg historical group called PAST, for Preserving Artifacts, Stories and Traditions. It, along with the Claysburg Fire Company, are beneficiaries of the event, which he promised to be “memorable.”

“We’ll have so much food and such a variety,” he said. “We have some great cooks in Claysburg.”

Attendees may opt to ride a school bus or drive on their own to the five satellite locations with all ending up at the Claysburg Fire Company Hall for main courses, games of chance, raffles and the option of bringing adult beverages to consume and share or enjoying soft drinks and water that will be provided, Allison said.

The fire hall menu will include German foods such as spaetzle, pork and sauerkraut, Fladley, sweet and sour cabbage, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. The Eastern European food station will feature haluski, kielbassi, pierogies and corn. Cheese raviolis, meatballs, chicken marsala and green beans will be the Italian offerings.

Spaetzle will be made on site so people can see how it’s made, said Danny Ebersole, who is in charge of that project.

“It’s a very, very basic recipe,” he said. “It’s Pennsylvania Dutch, and it’s just basically flour, egg and water.

“The Pennsylvania Dutch were farmers, and they always had access to flour and chickens for the eggs. … I grew up here on the farm with my parents, and my mother was trained by her mother, who was trained by her mother, who was Pennsylvania Dutch. The starch was very prevalent in their diet. They farmed 40 acres with a team of of horses. They needed a good meal like that.”

The demonstration at the fire hall will start from scratch, Ebersole said. The wet dough will be pressed through a spaetzle maker, which is simliar to a potato ricer, and the resulting noodles cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces and dropped in boiling chicken broth until done.

Besides the fire hall, the other stops are:

n Soups at Central States Manufactur-ing, to include Chicken Rivel, sauerkraut soup, Hungarian goulash and wedding soup.

n Salads at Sheetz Distribution Center conference room, to include salad with hot bacon dressing, antipasto salad, cabbage slaw, hot German potato salad, Croatian salad, Eastern European cucumber and onion salad.

n Appetizers at Zeigler Chevrolet Showroom and Christ Lutheran Church, to include Reuben casserole, hot pepper relish appetizer, meat and cheese platters, pickled eggs with beets, caprese bites, Lebanon bologna with cream cheese and more.

n Desserts at Memaw’s Sweets & Treats, to include German apple streudels, Black Forest German chocolate cake with cherries, baked apples, Croatian nut rolls and more.

“There’s going to be so much food,” Allison stressed.

Assuming a sellout, there will be five tours of 40 people each spending about 40 minutes at each stop, he said.

Besides the food, a different program on the rich history of the area will be presented based on location. For example, excavations were done near the Central States Manufacturing site and the history goes back 10,000 years, Allison said. The Sheetz site is on the property of an old furnace and a presentation will be made on the area’s historic iron-making industry. At Christ Lutheran, a history on the area’s churches and schools will be presented.

A much smaller event four years ago was very popular when a train tour took 200 riders through the Cove and back to Hollidaysburg, and they dined on appetizers and desserts, he said.

PAST also has done just history tours before, Allison said.

“We decided, why not combine the food and the history, the two things that people in Claysburg love,” he said. “This isn’t by mistake how we cook in Pennsylvania. This has been passed down for generations.”

Mirror Staff Writer Cherie Hicks is at 949-7030.

If you go

What: Ethnic Gourmet Food and History Tour

When: 2 to 8 p.m., Saturday, April 21

Where: Six stops in Claysburg

Admission: $30

Tickets/More info: www.claysburg.us or call 937-3397, 330-2616, 937-1907 or 239-2901

Note: Must be 21 to attend; only 200 advance tickets are available