Fair Time Brings Families Together

There’s never a dull moment when you’re a parent – especially when your three kids are all 4-H’ers and have less than a week to get their projects ready for the county fair.

It’s a good thing that Scott Mandernach is used to multi-tasking.  This fourth generation Iowa farmer is a 100% Latham® seed dealer, has a stop on the 2011 Latham-WHO Radio Crop Tour, farms his own ground and custom farms, plus he operates a general trucking business.

With all of these irons in the fire, it’s obvious that Scott has a good partner.  His wife, Mindi, has helped build their operation for nearly 18 years. (They’ll celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary next month.)  In addition to driving the tractor and keeping books, Mindi works two days a week as an x-ray technician for St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll.

“I grew up in town, so I didn’t realize that farming wasn’t an 8 to 5 job,” recalls Mindi, with a smile.  “But, it didn’t take me long to learn!  I just love the freedom that comes with living in the country, and I’m glad we’re raising our kids here.  I never have to worry about where they are.”

The Mandernach children were working cattle when I arrived on their Century Farm near Odebolt in Sac County, Iowa.  Twelve-year-old Clayton had just finished cleaning the pen for his steere, Charlie.  Karlie, 14, was leading her beautiful, doe-eyed bottle calf she named Kenya.  And 9-year-old Kacie was giggling over how well her Angus bottle calf, Leslie, was leading.

After stopping to pose for a couple of photos, the older two Mandernach kids got back to work in the cattle yard while Kacie showed me to the family’s newly remodeled and spacious kitchen.  Sitting on a tall stool at the snack bar was the perfect place to take in the action around me.

Kacie Mandernach will exhibit latchhook at the county fair this year

Mindi was busy looking through a community cookbook for the recipe that Kacie wanted to share with me.  Meanwhile, Kacie’s eyes were lighting up as she talked with me about the projects she’ll be exhibiting.  As a first-year 4-H member, Kacie is especially excited to be a part of the action this year. Her latch hook of vibrant flowers is ready for framing, and now she’s eager to get her food projects underway.  She and her mom were going to make a “trial batch” of Ice Cream Sandwiches, so Kacie could have a chance to practice her Pride of Iowa presentation.

The Pride of Iowa makes 4-H’ers aware of food ingredients that are made in Iowa.  The contest participant selects a recipe and then prepares it in front of the judges and the public.  Samples of the recipe are then given to the judges and the public.  (Now if I would’ve known this, I would have changed my interview date just to sample this dessert!)  Judging criteria includes originality of recipe, enthusiasm of the 4-Her, as well as the public’s enthusiasm for the product.

Kacie is definitely enthusiastic, so I’m sure she’ll score well on that criterion.  I’d give her a good score for originality, too.  Who’s ever heard of an ice cream cookie that doesn’t require you to first make the cookie? That’s usually a barrier in my house because all of the cookies get eaten before they’re made into ice cream sandwiches.  (Honestly, much of the dough gets eaten before it even gets baked!)

The easy-to-make graham cracker crust is a real bonus in my opinion.  The second bonus is that it required only four ingredients, which are common to most Iowa kitchens.  In addition, this recipe is a cost-effective way to feed a hungry crowd of kids.  Kacie says it makes a huge amount – enough to fill the extra large jelly roll pans.

With all the benefits of this recipe, it’s no wonder Kacie is excited about entering the Pride of Iowa competition this year.  Whip up a batch and let me know what color of ribbon you’d give it!  Also feel free to post your own blue-ribbon winning recipe on TheFieldPosition.com.

Ice Cream Sandwiches



  • 1, 3.4-oz. package instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 c. cold milk
  • 2 c. Cool Whip
  • 48 graham cracker squares



  1. Mix pudding and milk, according to package and refrigerate until set.
  2. Fold in Cool Whip
  3. Place 24 crackers on baking sheet; top with 3 tablespoons filling.
  4. Top with remaining crackers.
  5. Freeze 1 hour or until firm.
  6. Wrap individually.

BAKER’S TIP:  We’ve tried both chocolate graham crackers and honey graham crackers, but the chocolate was my favorite!  You can also add 1 c. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips or a crushed Butterfinger bar in with the Cool Whip.


Photo from The Cooking Mom