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story.lead_photo.caption Photo by Sally Carroll Todd Daugherty (left) helped his wife, Janie Daugherty (center) and Summer Shafer as they served loaded white chicken chili potatoes at the International Food Fest Friday night. The group represented OPAA, which is the food service company for the McDonald County School District.

Yailin Delgado's face lit up in delight as she took a bite of a birthday cake bon-bon.

"They are so good!" Delgado said, as she ate a little white chocolate covered bon-bon with multi-colored sprinkles.

Eugenio Mendoza Jr. agreed. "They are really good and so moist."

The bon-bons were the concoction of Pro Start teacher Marie Strader, who has taught at McDonald County High School for 10 years. Pro Start students created the variety of bon-bons, with different flavors of Oreos, and found those delectables were a big hit at the 27th Annual International Food Fest at the high school Friday night.

The event is a fundraiser for the McDonald County Drug-Free Scholarship Foundation, according to coordinator Rachel Acuff. Acuff's two sons have graduated from high school but she still continues to serve in her role because of the organization's importance, she said.

With a silent auction and a booming snow cone sale still ongoing, Acuff on Friday night couldn't say how much the organization had yet raised. However, she said the event typically raises anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 and provides the seed money for about 10 scholarships that range from $400 to $1,000 per student.

Any student in McDonald County -- even those who attend a private school -- are eligible for the scholarship, she emphasized. Students are required to pass two drug tests to be able to keep the scholarship, she said.

The event is usually held before a basketball game, and organizers try to choose a night that will feature a rivalry. On this night, the International Fair was held before the basketball game between McDonald County High School and Neosho.

The front hall was lined with various booths hosted by individuals and businesses and offering fare from pulled-pork sandwiches, to pizza, to Mexican dishes. Patrons could pay $10 for five samples or $15 for unlimited serving options.

Booth hosts were friendly, willing to offer samples and explain why they brought their featured dishes.

Tanya Lewis and Stephanie Sweeten, who teamed up, brought pulled-pork sandwiches and meatball sliders. Business had been brisk, they said.

At the end of the room, near the corner, Janie Daugherty and Summer Shafer offered a loaded white chicken chili potato. The two, who are with the school district's food service group, OPAA, said the event seemed to go well.

Daugherty serves as the district's food service director. She said such a forum is great for businesses and individuals to gather with a wide selection of food.

"It's amazing to get together and sample each other's dishes," she said. "We have deer chili, dishes from Germany, Mexican food."

Peyton Cooper helped out her mom and her mom's friend, Donna Underwood. Their booth offered toffee and peanut butter fudge, which was a big hit. Cooper said she heard a lot of compliments about the peanut butter fudge throughout the evening.

Just a few tables down, participants quickly grabbed up Monte Muehlebach's pulled-pork sandwiches, so he turned to offering his summer sausage. His business -- Cowboy Catering Company -- is headquartered at Sims Corner. He's come up with some delicious recipes, mainly through trial and error. His ancestors were brewmasters and his grandfather was a baker, so it seems natural that he would want to dabble and discover good recipes as well, he said.

His business card says he is a "queologist." Muehlebach smiled and said that meant, "All things barbecue." The term is a good point of conversation, he said.

Muehlebach has a food truck and wants to expand his business. As he continues to build his business, his son, Bristol, helps with packaging and does the dishes.

Toward the end of the evening, Acuff announced that Kenny Underwood was the People's Choice winner for his red beans and rice, with homemade hot rolls.

Across the room, a long line of snowcone enthusiasts gathered to have a mile-high flavored tasty, cold treat. Patrons had the option of selecting from a list of delicious frozen delights.

Back at the bon-bon table, the cinnamon roll chocolates seemed to be a winner. Anton Mart and Henry Malin offered different bon-bons on silver platters, explaining the difference of all the delectables that featured different flavors of Oreos.

Strader -- their teacher -- said the students gain a lot of confidence in promoting the food they created. The experience sharpens their social skills and helps boost their morale in completing a huge task.

"I'm so proud they have done this," she said.

General News on 02/01/2018

Print Headline: International Food Fest Showcases Delectables, Dishes

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