Monthly Archives: September 2013

Cowbells for cancer: Tips from festival food tent help local patients

5242445e43435_imageMITCHELL — Asher Arce rings the cowbell after giving Phi Beta Psi member Carolyn Zeeks, left, a tip. The bell ringing is a new tradition at the Phi Beta Psi food tent. The tips are used to help local cancer patients. The sorority did a brisk business Tuesday afternoon at the Mitchell Persimmon Festival.


BEDFORD — Leaving a tip at the Phi Beta Psi food stand is a big deal these days. Whether it’s loose change or several dollars, the members working the Persimmon Festival make sure everyone knows the tip jar just got a little richer, and someone battling cancer will benefit.

Clang, clang, clang goes the cowbell, followed by a chorus of hoots and hollers. And they do it for every tip.

On Tuesday, their enthusiasm for tips was still going strong.

“Let’s hope we’re still that loud Saturday night,” joked Nancy Mundy, a member of Phi Beta Psi and chairman of the festival food stand.

More Cowbells for Cancer will raise more than $1,000 this week for local cancer patients.

For years, the sorority has used the festival tip money to assist cancer patients in Lawrence County.

“Tips usually ranged from $200 to $300,” said Mundy.

A few years ago, a member brought up that the sorority needed to draw attention to the purpose of the tips so more people might give.

The idea for the More Cowbells for Cancer initiative was born and tips have grown exponentially.

“Last year, we raised $1,357,” said Mundy. “Our goal for this festival is to get $1,500 in tips.”

By midday Tuesday, tips totaled about $250, but Mundy said as the festival goes on, the crowds — and tips — get bigger.

“A lot of people didn’t realize what we were doing and they would ask, ‘Why are you ringing a bell and screaming?’ said Jodi Mundy, a Phi Beta Psi sorority member.

Now that the cowbell has caught on, festival-goers want in on the action.

“If kids are here at the stand, we let them ring the bell,” Nancy Mundy said.

The sorority may make a big to-do over the tips, but it goes about helping cancer patients quietly.

“If we find out someone has cancer, we’ll send them some money or a gas card,” said Nancy Mundy said. “All the tip money stays in the community.”

The sorority also supports national organizations that do cancer research.

The success of More Cowbells for Cancer makes the long hours at the Persimmon Festival worth the effort, say the members. Phi Beta Psi has had a food stand on Main Street for 66 years.

Sue Beasley, Mona Mundy and Sherlia Hunter don’t get to see much of the festival. They spend their days in the sorority house down the street, making chili, cutting pies and other food prep.

“We’re there from 8 to 8,” Hunter said.

Chili, sloppy joes and tenderloins are the stand’s biggest sellers, as well as its homemade persimmon pudding and pies.

“We go through about six pies a day,” Hunter said.

Each member is responsible for making four puddings for the food stand.

“One gal made 15,” Hunter said. Beasley made nine.

The week before the festival, the members brown 270 pounds of ground beef, which is frozen to be used in the chili and sloppy joes.

The 40 active members of the sorority are required to work 15 hours in the stand, but Nancy Mundy said many more people are involved in the stand.

“A lot of our husbands are involved putting the kitchen together, setting up the stand,” she said.

Beasley’s husband, Russell, peels the onions.

“It’s one week of hard work, but we all have fun with it,” Hunter said.

Article and pictures courtesy of the Times-Mail


Persimmon Queen – Mia Burton



MITCHELL — The Persimmon Festival crowd gathered around the stage Monday night and applauded as Mia Burton was crowned as the 2013 Persimmon Festival queen.

“It’s unbelievable,” said 17-year-old Burton, who was sponsored by the Varsity Club. “My mom came up, and when she hugged me, I cried a little.”

Burton, a senior at Mitchell High School, said this was the first time she participated in the queen pageant. Judging for the contest took place Sunday afternoon at the MHS auditorium.

“This is the first time I’ve done anything girly,” Burton said. “I was not expecting (to win) because every girl did so well.”

Burton, daughter of Steve Burton and Linda Burton, plays basketball for MHS. She also plays softball and participates in Spanish and the MHS Pep Club.

Burton plans to attend college and would like to be an attorney. She also is interested in journalism. To explore the future career idea, she interns at the Lawrence County Courthouse with Circuit Court Judge Andrea McCord.

Burton said in order to prepare for the queen contest, she practiced her speech in front of both her mother and father many times.

“I am astounded; in shock,” Linda said. “I knew she had it in her.”

“This is a hard thing to go through,” Burton said, mentioning the public speaking aspect of the contest. “It’s such an awesome experience.”

As the 2013 queen, Burton was awarded items including the crown, a scepter, two necklaces, $50 cash, a travel bag, a bouquet and a purse.

“I want to encourage more girls to enter because I made friendships here I did not expect to make, and I expect they’re life-long friendships.”


Burton’s court of Persimmon princesses includes Meghan Jade Emberton, who also won Miss Congeniality, Abbie Nicola White, Burgandy Kay Eagans, Brittany Lynn Bell, Mattie Jean England and Jayda Marie Eubanks,

“It’s been fun meeting all these girls,” Burton said after the contest. “I wish them all the best in life.”

Courtesy of the Times-Mail.