Oct. 17, 2012 —
Ed Caudill didn’t expect a lot of traffic through the rural community of Willard during the weekend’s first Trade Days festival, although he and the staff of volunteers at Papaw’s Country Kitchen are ready to feed a crowd with a menu including chicken and dumplings, baked steak and several roast pork.
“The idea was to have something like Mount Sterling with Court Days or the Lucasville Swap Meet,” said Caudill Thursday afternoon as a team of volunteers hustled to put meals together in the kitchen at Papaw’s place. “Guns, goats, guineas and geese ... they’re all supposed to be here Saturday. And, coon hounds, fox hounds and puppies.”
Caudill said he wanted to welcome reputable gun dealers to Trade Days, and chuckles as he recalls the string of phone calls he made as an effort to make sure everything would be legal. A firearms enthusiast himself, Caudill said he is confident other shooters and collectors found “an excellent selection of everything that is legal and morally ethical,” during Trade Days.
With the goal of making Trade Days an annual event, vendors of all sorts have been invited, although food sales are the exclusive domain of Papaw’s Country Kitchen, where a team of at least eight people gather each morning to make home-cooked meals to generate money to fund a mobile soup kitchen, Papaw’s Chuckwagon, and for supplies including disposable bowls, plates, napkins and sandwich bags.
Caudill and his wife, Marilyn, draft daily menus and specials based on the foods they can find the best price on, as well as enjoying support from neighbors who contribute foods including fresh beans and buckets of “just-dug” potatoes. Gospel musicians have also been counted among the kitchen’s best supporters, Caudill said.
“We have the gospel singing every Friday night and we rely on the groups who want to help,” he said. “They hear of what we’re trying to do and a lot of times they just call us asking what they can do to help.”