This week I continue with our adventures in Door County taking you to a fun breakfast on the farm and a Door County fish boil. In case you missed the first article in this series, click here.
Breakfast on the Farm
As time for our month long stay in Door County grew nearer, my Traveling Partner and I began to look for interesting things to do with our guests. We quickly spotted the Sevastopol FFA Alumni Dairy Breakfast scheduled for Sunday July 3 as a must attend event. The location was just a fifteen minute car ride from the Homestead where we were staying. Some of our guests had never been to a breakfast on the farm, they were in for a treat.
First, a little about the Sevastopol School District where the FFA chapter originates. Situated north of Sturgeon Bay in the Township of Sevastopol, the small K-12 school serves the rural communities in the surrounding area. The school is near the unincorporated village of Institute where there’s a Catholic church, a tavern, and a few houses. Sevastopol is one of two agriculture programs and FFA chapters in Door County, the other is at Southern Door County School District near Brussels.
Every year for the past 41 years, the Sevastopol FFA Alumni have organized a dairy breakfast to raise money for chapter activities. It takes a lot of work and people to pull off this event that has grown in popularity over the years. It’s estimated they sold 10,000 tickets for this year’s breakfast and raised $20,000. They are taking advantage of the swarm of tourists that descend on Door County for the long Independence Day weekend. We learned that one of the main criteria in selecting a farm to host the breakfast is parking for thousands of cars near the farm. Fortunately, this year’s hosts had a newly mown hayfield across the road from the farmstead.
When we pulled into the parking area, we noted that nearly half the license plates were from Illinois. After parking, we joined the long line that began in the parking lot before crossing over a township road to the farm.
The hosts for the dairy breakfast was the Henschel Family at Cherryland Dairy Farm. They milk about fifty cows in a stanchion barn, no milking parlor for this family. In addition to milking cows and farming several hundred acres of land, they have a farrow-to-finish hog operation, a large maple syrup business (we bought some, it was delicious!) tapping 1200 trees each spring, several acres of sour cherries, beehives, and a commercial saw mill. Each member of the family takes leadership for some part of the enterprise, a truly diversified family farm.
The line moved along quickly. The weather was perfect, sunny and in the mid-70s, couldn’t ask for a nicer day. Everyone was in a good mood, no grumbling about the wait. For entertainment, we read the signs and tried to guess the answers to the trivia questions.
While in line, we watched this crew fill a large order of scrambled eggs.
Soon, we purchased our tickets and entered one of the many serving lines.
Our group found a place for all of us to sit in the crowded tent. I snapped a photo of my plate before chowing down.
Our out of state guests really like the concept of having breakfast on a farm. After the meal, we walked through the big red barn and saw the new born calves. It is interesting to note that one calf is brown like a Jersey and the other black and white like a Holstein.
We checked out the line up of modern farm machinery. Someone brought a few old tractors for display. They were kid magnets. This little fellow was determined to reach the clutch. He spent a long time sitting on that tractor until his mom told him to let other kids have a turn. He reluctantly climbed down.
This upright cow was walking around having his picture taken with the kids. Looks kind of scary with the beard and sunglasses!
There was an area for the kids to pet farm animals. As we walked by someone handed our friend Iris, a city kid, a baby goat. It was the photo of the day for me!
The little kids played in a pool filled with corn. I’m sure some of the corn ended up in their shoes and down their pants!
The ride on the horse-drawn wagon was very popular. Every trip around the field was filled.
As we reluctantly left the farm. we looked back and saw the farmhouse decorated for the Fourth of July.
After our delicious breakfast, we decided a hike at The Ridges in Baileys Harbor was in order. We parked near the main entrance and leisurely walked the one-third mile boardwalk. There were a couple flowers just begging for a photo. I obliged, the dwarf lake iris is my favorite.
When we reached the boardwalk to the Baileys Harbor Range Lights, we did a self-guided tour of the lighthouse keepers quarters. I took this photo looking towards the harbor.
After a mile hike on the Spruce Trail, we headed back to the Homestead for some rest and relaxation.
A Door County Fish Boil
One of the many unique experiences in Door County is taking part in a fish boil. We made reservations at the Old Post Office restaurant just across from Lake Michigan in the village of Ephraim. Before being seated for dinner, guests are directed to an area behind the restaurant where chairs and benches are available to watch the cooking process. There’s a hot fire under a big cast iron pot filled with water. Potatoes and onions are boiling away waiting for the fish.
Soon, the Boil Master, Jeremy, arrives to talk about the boil process as he adds a few more logs to the fire. He tells us that Scandinavians brought the fish boil to Door County in the late 1800s. The boil was an efficient way to feed large groups of loggers and other workers. Fish were plentiful in Lake Michigan. After the logging industry declined, tourism began. Restaurants began offering fish boils to attract patrons.
Locally caught whitefish are used in the boil. Jeremy showed us the “kettle” of fish that he was about to dump into the boiling salted water.
After regaling us with more local history, Jeremy told us to get our cameras ready. The “boil-over” was about to happen. As the fish cooks, the oils rise to the top of the boiling water. To remove the oils before serving, the boil master throws a can filled with kerosene at the base of the fire. The flames quickly rise and the pot boils over removing the oils. The ending is pretty dramatic!
After this demo, it’s time to eat! We found our pre-assigned table and in a few minutes our meal is delivered. Not everyone had the fish dinner, a few in our group had ribs or chicken. They were cooked in the regular way. It was a fun evening and a great meal with family and good friends.
Watch for more Door County adventures next week.
Until then, happy travels!