Center Fair this weekend has rich history

Published 8:02 pm Monday, September 9, 2019

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By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon


When sitting with Nancy Tutterow in the living room of her home, one senses her ties to the family – and that connection feels palpable. She lives with her youngest son, Ray, in her parent’s house where she was raised.

She’s outlived most of her friends. And even though Nancy’s older now, her story is still relevant. Her message to women is as essential today as ever.

Her words focus on home and family life – sharing her thoughts on how important it is to enjoy meals with family. She believes one key benefit of learning to cook is so your family can gather around the table and talk to one another.

Families aren’t sitting down with each other anymore it seems, but Nancy makes sure she does.

She and her son, Ray, eat dinner together every night they can – what she calls their family time.

“I can be tired, and he comes in and starts telling me who’s come in the office or someone he talked to that he hasn’t seen in a long time, and I’m refreshed hearing all this news. We talk about it over dinner.”

There’s a lot of work behind the scenes to get ready for the the Center Fair. The old fashioned, country fair is a tradition for folks in Davie.

Nancy’s mother and dad were from Davie County. When they first got married, her daddy ran a country store. He was a member of Center Methodist before he moved to Winston-Salem. Her mother was a member of Jericho Church of Christ.

A salesman came by one day and told her father about a job at Brown, Rogers, and Dixon Hardware Store in Winston-Salem. He ended up working there for years, so Nancy was about 7 before the family moved back to Davie County. She’s been going to Center church ever since.

Her daddy attended Center because he had lots of friends in the community since he’d grown up and lived there. The family walked to church if someone didn’t pick them up, as there weren’t many cars back then.

On other occasions, Nancy would accompany her mother to Jericho Church. On one visit, when Nancy was a young girl, she was so moved by the service that it sparked a desire to be baptized there.

Back then, baptisms were performed in a creek or pond. For the traditional ritual, the church often used her uncle’s land, which was near the church and included pasture lands and a beautiful pond.

After Nancy got married, she continued to take her mother to Jericho while her husband, Clay, accompanied their kids to Center. Not too much later, Nancy’s mamma would come to realize how important it was for the family unit to have a home church where they attended together.

When Clay came back after four years in the Army, and her oldest son was 6 months old, Nancy went to work outside the home at the Register of Deeds office in Mocksville – and worked there for 45 years.

Shortly after her husband returned from active duty, there was a big revival going on at Center. The preacher there and a visiting preacher stopped by the house to visit with the couple and asked Nancy if she was interested in joining the church. She’d already considered joining and answered by saying she might join one day.

After the preachers left, Nancy and her mother talked about it.

“Mamma said, ‘Nancy, I want to tell you right now to go on and join Center Church if you want to. You need to be with your husband and family.’ When she put her ok on it, I was ready to join. That’s the way I took that.”

Then a day came when tragedy struck as Nancy and Clay lost their second son, George. A difficult time followed. She’s never forgotten how the church was there for them during that time. “I felt so warm and loved by the way people treated us. They were just there if we needed them for anything,” she recalled.

The couple’s oldest son, Jim, joined the church as well. Trying times would fall upon the family again after losing Jim to cancer. While it was a really tough time and especially hard on Clay, he stuck right there with the church during their toughest days. Knowing we are all affected by loss at one time or another, Nancy pondered, “I wonder what people do when they don’t have a connection like that – I don’t know how they make it.”

The church’s been good to her, and in return, she’s been devoted to the church through the years.

And ever since Nancy’s family moved back to Center in 1958, she’s participated in the Center Fair every year. From the beginning to the finish, she’s been involved – and still enjoys it.

Built in 1876, the Historic Center Arbor was already 48 years old when the Center community organized the first Center Fair in 1924, opening it to all residents of Davie County. After a transitional history that spanned the years of 1927-1938, the Center Fair was revived in 1954 at the original site. The date was a few years before the Center Volunteer Fire Department was founded in 1957. The community began to hold events to raise money for a new fire truck.

Center Church has the first records of a fair being held there, and a few, old fair books have been found that tell about exhibitors, and their entries at earlier fairs.

“It’s a lot of fun. You get to see people you know and meet people you don’t know who you enjoy talking to.”

She’s enjoyed working down in the pits making the sandwiches – a few thousand pounds of smoked pork BBQ is prepared.

Sometimes Nancy was needed to help with the hush puppies along with other duties in the kitchen. That’s where folks might walk by the door and say hi, but what she enjoys most is getting to chat with all the folks who come in. She’s a people person.

“They might come to the door and say hi, and I enjoy that, but I don’t get to see all the people.”

Those who just come to pick up their BBQ without coming in to see the exhibits – they miss out on some of the most fun parts of the fair.

While Nancy doesn’t give herself enough credit for being a good cook, she still enjoys baking pound cakes – and can hold her own when competing.  On participating in the culinary competition this year, Nancy said, “I usually try to enter a couple of cakes, a pie, or something. Sometimes I win, and sometimes I don’t.”

Nancy doesn’t cook that often anymore, so it seems Ray gets some of the cooking duty these days.

“He likes to cook and enjoys taking a recipe and adding to it. He can come up with some great things,” she added.

Going through the exhibits, Nancy and her friends always laughed at all the “impossible” things that happened.

“Kind of like my bowling when I knocked all the pins down. I didn’t try quite as hard as I sometimes do, and all of them fell. That’s the way it is. When you don’t think you’ve got a chance, and then you go and do so well.”

According to Nancy, one of the impossibilities at the fair was winning a premium, first-place award. She never fathomed she’d win the Best of Culinary in the adult category, an award established in memory of Polly Latham.

Nancy not only won it once – but twice. She won it the first time for her pecan pound cake and again, a second time, for her plain pound cake.

Explaining how she pulled that off, Nancy confided, “The plain one is made from the same recipe as the pecan cake. I just made a few changes.”

That recipe sounds like a good one – but winning takes more than that. You know you’re a pretty good baker if you can bake an award-winning cake and then modify it enough to go on and claim another prized blue ribbon.

It was Nancy’s mamma who taught her about everything in the kitchen. One of the things she learned was how to make biscuits. She learned by watching her mother mix ingredients – but she never really measured much except sometimes for cakes.

Either her mamma or daddy would go to Green Milling Co. where they’d buy the big bags of flour to make homemade biscuits, pastry, pie crust, and cakes. “I have a big enamel bowl that mamma made everything in, and seems like she would just dip down in that big bag of flour and get her hands full of whatever – she’d measure it with her hands.”

The family made their own churned butter off the farm. They kept the lard from the hog most of the time, but Nancy remembered running out a time or two and having to make a trip to the store to buy some. She thinks that’s the secret ingredient to making the best biscuits ever.

With the 2019 Center Fair approaching, Nancy admitted, “I’ve been co-chair, the treasurer – and it’s always been a big part of my life.”

She’s been hospitalized twice during September while the fair was taking place. But she’d come home from the hospital, and her sister would take her to the church just so she could walk around and see everyone.

“I wouldn’t have missed it if there was a way I could get there.

“I hadn’t run out of questions and could have listened to Nancy’s stories all afternoon. As our chat neared a close, she shared with me that her father-in-law, Luke Tutterow, had been a county commissioner.

“He didn’t think anyone should have secrets. He’d just ask people all kinds of questions like he was doing an interview. I’m right much like him, but I don’t ask questions. I surprise people sometimes by telling them my age.”

“So how old are you,” I asked.

She’s 95 years old, but you’d never know it. She’s lived a long life and has enough savvy and wisdom to account for each one of those years. Her church, home, and family – that’s what this lady’s always been about.

On how she’s been personally blessed, Nancy shared, “I was tickled to death when Ray was born. He was a surprise and the biggest blessing in my life. The Lord knew what He was doing. I wasn’t ever going to be alone.”

Comforting to all is knowing we will never be alone through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised us saying, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14: 16-18. (KJV)

The Center Fair will be held Sept. 13 and 14 at Center Arbor. Nancy has graciously shared some of her favorite recipes with readers.


2- 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened

1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans

½ cup finely chopped celery

¼ cup finely chopped green pepper

2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion

2 tsp. seasoning salt

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, ½ cup chopped pecans, and remaining ingredients until thoroughly blended. Shape into 2 8-inch logs. Roll in remaining pecans. Serve with crackers. Refrigerate.


2- 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 pkg. Lipton dry vegetable soup mix

2 Tbsp. chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped pecans

Roll a rolling pin over package of soup mix before opening. In a bowl, add cream cheese, soup mix, and onion. Shape into one of two balls depending on desired size. Roll in nuts. Serve with crackers. Refrigerate.


1-8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

3 Tbsp. chopped green pepper

2/3 chopped pecans

½ tsp. salt

Dash of freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbsp. chopped onion

3 Tbsp. chili sauce

3 chopped, hard-boiled eggs

In a bowl, combine all ingredients, and mix thoroughly. Spread on bread or crackers. Refrigerate.


1-8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

¼ cup grated onion

¼ cup grated carrot

¼ cup chopped green pepper

¼ cup chopped celery

1 tsp. lemon juice

Mayonnaise to spread

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Add enough mayonnaise to spread. Spread on bread or crackers. Refrigerate.


1 pkg. sausage or pepper gravy mix

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup milk

1 cup water

1 chopped onion

1 pkg. frozen hash browns

In a large pot, whisk together gravy mix, broth, milk, and water.  Add chopped onion and hash browns. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender and soup is the desired consistency.


6 medium potatoes, peeled, quartered

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

¼ tsp. black pepper

¾ tsp. salt

6 Tbsp. salted butter

Combine flour, cheese, pepper, and salt in a bag. Shake potatoes in flour mixture. Melt butter in a shallow baking pan. Place potatoes in one layer in the pan. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 1 hour, turning once during baking.


1 can French cut green beans, drained

1 can white shoepeg corn, drained

1 can cream of celery soup

½ cup sour cream

½ cup grated gruyere or cheddar cheese

½ cup diced celery

½ cup chopped onion

1 stick salted butter

1 ½ cups Pepperidge Farm Stuffing

½ cup chopped almonds or pecans

In a bowl, combine green beans, corn, soup, sour cream, cheese, celery, chopped onion and mix well. For the topping, combine butter, stuffing, and nuts. Pour bean and corn mixture into a greased 2-quart casserole dish. Spread topping evenly over the top. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly.


12 oz. pkg. thin flat noodles

16 oz. bag frozen broccoli, thawed

2 Tbsp. salted butter

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 cups yogurt

6 green onions and tops, chopped

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook noodles according to pkg. directions. Rinse and drain. In a skillet, melt butter, Add thawed broccoli, and salt and pepper. Saute until broccoli is tender but still slightly crisp. Set aside. In a mixer, blend cream cheese with yogurt. Stir in chopped onions. In a buttered casserole dish, layer noodles, broccoli mixture, and cream cheese mixture. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Freezes well. Serves 6.


Large can of kraut with liquid

¼ stick salted butter or margarine

1 ½ cup self-rising flour

1 egg

¼ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup (or more) buttermilk

Put a large can of kraut with liquid and butter in a large pot and heat to medium.  In a bowl, mix flour, egg, oil, and buttermilk. The mixture should be thick. Reduce heat to low. By large spoonfuls, push each dumpling off the spoon, and drop into the kraut. Have heat set on low and cover. In a few minutes, turn each dumpling with a large spoon. Let cool for 15-20 minutes. Eat while warm, but also good cold.


¾ cup crushed cornflakes

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 lbs.)

½ cup salted butter or margarine, melted

In a bowl, combine cornflakes, cheese, and salad dressing. Dip chicken in butter. Roll chicken in cornflake mixture to coat. Place in a greased 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish. Bake uncovered in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until juices run clear. 8 servings.


1 cup scalded milk (or more)

Yeast cake

½ cup warm water

Bit of sugar

2 beaten eggs

1 cup mashed potatoes

½ cup sugar

¾ cup Crisco shortening

2 tsp. salt

All-purpose flour

In a pot, scald the milk. When cool, add 1 yeast cake. Put yeast cake in ½ cup of lukewarm water and sprinkle of sugar. Add eggs, potatoes, sugar, salt, and enough flour to make a dough. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use. Let rise 2 hours before using.


1 cup self- rising cornmeal

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 beaten egg

1 cup buttermilk

Wesson vegetable oil

In a bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, egg, and buttermilk. Form into shapes. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet to medium.  Fry hushpuppies at medium heat until golden on one side, and then turn and fry until golden. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.


3 cups all-purpose flour


¾ cup Crisco shortening

1 egg, beaten

1 Tbsp. vinegar

6 or more Tbsp. of water

In a mixer, add flour, salt, cut Crisco into the flour in pieces. Then add beaten egg, vinegar, and water to the flour mixture.  Roll into a ball. Refrigerate. Separate into enough dough for 2 pies with tops, and maybe some left over. Roll out and place in pie pan.


1 cup butter or margarine

½ cup Crisco shortening (solid)

3 cups sugar

5 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup Hershey’s cocoa

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 cup whole milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Have butter, Crisco, eggs, and milk at room temperature before starting to mix cake. Cream margarine, Crisco, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Using a spoon, stir one-third of the flour mixture into creamed mixture until blended. Combine milk and vanilla. Stir one half of this mixture into creamed mixture until blended. Then repeat with remaining flour mixture and milk and blend well.  Pour batter in a well-greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 2 hours. Cool and remove from pan.


1 box devils’ food cake mix

2- 7 oz. pkgs. of Baker’s coconut

1 cup whole milk

1 cup sugar

12 large marshmallows

Bake cake in layers according to pkg. directions. In a pot, combine coconut, milk, sugar, and marshmallows. Cook for 2 minutes or until marshmallows are melted. Let cool. Ice each layer except top and stack layers. Ice top and sides of cake with your favorite dark chocolate icing.


½ lb. salted butter

¼ cup Crisco

5 eggs

3 cups sugar

3 cups flour

¾ cup pet milk

¼ cup water

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. rum extract

1 cup chopped nuts

Cream butter, Crisco, and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flour while alternating with milk and water. Fold in extracts and chopped nuts. In a greased and floured tube pan, bake in a 325-degree oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Don’t open door for first hour.


2 sticks salted butter

½ cup Crisco shortening (solid)

3 cups sugar

6 eggs

½ Tbsp. almond extract

1 tsp. coconut extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

1 1/3 cups coconut flakes

Cream butter, Crisco, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flavorings and mix well. Alternately add flour and milk, beating after each addition. Stir in coconut. Spoon batter into a well-greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.


1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup sugar

1 can condensed milk

Salted butter

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, and just enough milk to make a stiff dough. Spread over fruit that has been heated (with sugar added to fruit). Nancy adds a little butter or margarine on top of the fruit before adding dough. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 25 minutes or until crust is golden.


1 cup Crisco shortening (solid)

½ cup butter or margarine

3 cups sugar

6 beaten eggs

½ tsp. almond extract

½ tsp. vanilla extract

½ jar (10 oz.) Maraschino cherries

3 ¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour

¾ cup whole milk

In a mixer, cream shortening, butter, and sugar. Add eggs one a time, blending well after each addition. Add extracts and cherries. Add flour while alternating with milk. Place cake in a cold oven and set to 300-degrees. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Cool. Frost when completely cool.


3 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

½ stick salted butter or margarine

½ jar (10 oz.) chopped Maraschino cherries

1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract

½ cup coconut

½ cup chopped nuts

In a mixer, cream together cream cheese, sugar, and butter. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Hint: Remember when baking, be sure to check your baked goods at least 30 minutes earlier to prevent over baking or burning. Regardless of the recipe, I always set my oven timer far in advance. This is one secret to better-baked goods. You can make a 4 layer cake by slicing 2 slices horizontally. Make sure to account for additional icing.