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Lots of pasta and lots of hungry eaters mean success

February 13, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - According to a volunteer at an all-you-can-eat fundraiser, there always is room for more.

"You can eat that, this is good stuff," Jim Nipps said, dishing out encouragement and jokes as he piled plates with heaping nests of spaghetti.

The Antietam Exchange Club's 33rd annual Italian Festa featuring hundreds of pounds of pasta drew hundreds of hungry Sunday diners to South Hagerstown High School, organizers said. About $5 for every ticket sold will go to local organizations, event chairperson Frit Hill said during the event.

The rest of the money will go toward paying off the event's overhead, including the cost of using the school, Hill said.

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"This is my first time attending this, but it was great. We might have to come back next year, as well," Joanne Berdine said as she and her daughters and husband ate lunch.

Hill, the president-elect of the exchange club, said about 25 club members, as well as members' spouses and children, helped at the event, which typically draws about 800 people. Tickets cost $8 in advance and $9 at the door, and all proceeds go to local organizations, such as the Parent-Child Center and Hagerstown YMCA, he said.

"We return all this money back to the Hagerstown area," he said.

The club planned to use 80 gallons of sauce and 80 loaves of bread for the event, Hill said. The club planned to prepare 240 pounds of spaghetti, member Bob Fennel said.

It takes experience to prepare all that food, volunteer David Oswald of Hagerstown said.

"All of us have Ph.D.s in this, you know. You can't let just anyone take the spaghetti out of the boiler," said Oswald, a club member since 1978.

Berdine, a Falling Waters, W.Va., woman who heard about the event through someone at work, said she had no plans to take a second trip through the cafeteria line.

"Yeah, if I'd had two portions of that, they'd be rolling me out," Berdine said.

For Emily Berdine, 7, the event marked a milestone. The spaghetti left a gap in her smile, her mother said.

"It was so good it made her tooth fall out," Berdine said.

Berdine and husband Kevin Berdine, talked as their girls finished desert.

"They made sure they filled everyone up," he said.

Volunteer Bill Fox conceded the food was not the event's only drawing card. According to Fox, who has been in the club 32 years, customers also enjoy a little good-natured ribbing. He appeared more than willing to pile it on.

"The customers like our humor, they hate our spaghetti, but they love our humor," Fox said with a laugh.

Customer Shaun McClain, who as an employee of Clean-A-Lot Inc. spent the morning shoveling snow, got in on the fun as he grabbed up his second dish of pasta.

"It is excellent, just like Mom's," he said.

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