“Hey Grandma!” That is the greeting Wanda Loudermilk looks forward to each year at the fair. In 1962, at 31 years old, Wanda drove her station wagon into the fairgrounds and sold Amish fudge and cheese. With a recipe passed down through many generations, Wanda was unaware of the lasting impression she would carry 58 years later.
“The first fair I ever attended as a vendor was the N.C. State Fair”, Wanda said, “and I loved it.” According to her daughter Rhonda, she would even cook lunch for the other vendors in her area throughout the duration of the fair. Starting with two or three flavors of fudge and growing to 12 flavors this year, Wanda has always been a hard working and generous woman.
Throughout her lifetime, Wanda has operated a catering company and tailoring business, neither of which kept her from the State Fair. Up until four years ago, Wanda drove the moving truck with all her supplies to the fairgrounds. She now rides in the passenger seat, often with her daughter Sandra driving, which doesn’t bother her as long as she gets there. As a mother of five, Wanda worked hard to ensure a strong work ethic and love of the fair in her children.
“Growing up we would always work the fair,” Rhonda says, “from lifting fudge and cheese boxes to standing on a bucket and selling, we worked just as hard as everyone else did.”
Rhonda and Sandra continue to help their mother at the fair to this day along with several nieces and cousins.
“They come stay in town at our house during the fair,” Wanda said, “It’s like a family reunion for us.”
Wanda has traveled across states with her Amish fudge and even served some army and air force bases, but she always came back to the N.C. State Fair as a favorite. She even describes the fair as more fun than family vacations and boat trips. Although growing up she loved the carousel and corn on the cob, the people are her favorite part.
“It’s people like you and me, seeing them smile and laughing with them,” Wanda says, “I just love seeing everyone have a good time!”
Now 88 years old, when asked if she would be at the 2019 fair, Wanda said, “Well of course I am going to work the booth this year. Where else would I be?”
The Amish fudge is located in the MarketPlace near the N.C. State Fair Ice Cream booth. Wanda describes her fudge as smooth and creamy. This year she is featuring two new varieties, blueberry cheesecake and strawberry cheesecake, along with their classic flavors.
After 58 years, Wanda leaves a true legacy. She is excited to see some of the customers she has come to call family over the years.
“I needed the people and they needed me,” Wanda said, “it was just right for me.”
The entire family hopes that Amish fudge will be a name ringing out at the fair for years to come.