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One of the greatest supporters of the annual baked goods auctions at area community shows, Mearl McCleaf of Mountain Gate Family Restaurant, passed away in October 2021. For many years, Mearl McCleaf purchased Champion and Reserve Champion cakes and baked goods at Community Shows in Frederick County. 

At this year’s Frederick County Community Show’s Baked Goods Auctions in September and October, every Youth Department’s Champion Cake will benefit its community show’s area youth with the proceeds equally allocated to these three funds: FFA Chapter’s National FFA Convention Trip, and their Grange & FFA Alumni & Supporters Scholarships.

Rodman Myers, president of the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show, recently presented a plaque in honor and memory of Mearl McCleaf to his wife, Dolores, and sons (left to right) Craig, Dean, and Keith, of Mountain Gate Family Restaurant in Thurmont.

Photo by Deb Abraham Spalding

by Maxine Troxell

Christmastime is almost here.  Time to start to think of all the holiday goodies you will be baking this year, from cookies to cakes and all kinds of spicy goodies. Growing up, my mom would make all kinds of cakes. My mom and all her sisters were great bakers. I always loved applesauce cake with all the spices, raisins, and nuts. I found the recipe below in a cookbook from Damascus in the late 1980s or early 1990s. I do not remember what organization it was in, but I did copy the recipe and have used it as entries in the Community Show. It has won a lot of blue ribbons. This cake is so easy to make because there are no eggs, and you just put all the ingredients, except the raisins and nuts, into a mixing bowl. I am a fan of fruitcake, so if you like candied fruit, you can add candied fruit to the raisin and nut mixture.  At Christmastime, I like to decorate it with candied cherries and nuts. If you use a Bundt pan to bake the cake, you can put the candied cherries and the walnuts in the grooves in the bottom of the pan.

Applesauce Cake

4 cups ( minus ¼ cup for raisins and nuts)  all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar  
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup butter (melted)
2 cups raisins
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 cups applesauce
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease and flour 10-inch tube or Bundt cake pan.  Mix all ingredients except raisins and nuts. In a small bowl, combine raisins and nuts.  Add ¼ cup flour to raisins and nuts to coat.  Add the raisin and nut mixture to cake batter.  Using a spatula, fold raisin and nut mixture in until mixed through.  Bake in pre-heated oven for 1 to 1½ hours (until toothpick inserted comes out clean).  

Remove cake from oven and cool for 10 minutes.  Invert cake onto cooling rack.  When cake is cool, sift powdered sugar on top.  Keep cake in an airtight container.  To keep cake moist, you can wrap cake

in a cheesecloth soaked with cooking sherry.

McKenzi Forrest, Rocky Ridge Progressive

   4H Club Reporter

Congratulations to all of the winners and participants of the Catoctin Area Youth Show on September 12, 2020, at Eyler’s Stables in Thurmont. Unfortunately, we were unable to share in the normal festivities of the Community Show this year, but we really enjoyed the ability to show and sale our livestock projects. Thank you to all of the buyers who came out to support us again this year, as well as some new buyers who cheered us on through their financial support also. We are so grateful to the FFA Alumni Livestock Committee for coordinating this event for us kids, so we could experience a piece of what we enjoy doing most: showing our animals. 

We live in a great community where the outpour of support is unparalleled.  Good luck to all of the exhibitors participating in the Fair Invitational. Have fun! 

Megan Doolittle

Elower-Sicilia Productions (ESP) ESP dancers are back for a new dance year and are excited to dance for their community! The dancers loved dancing at the Community Show, as well as the Thurmont Art & Wine Stroll! They will also perform at Colorfest in the Thurmont town park on both Saturday and Sunday at noon. While ESP is celebrating its 50th anniversary, the ESP Performing Company has been working hard at brand new choreography for a new year. ESP is so lucky to have such a great group of dancers, who love to express their love for dance through their performances. ESP Performing Company has a couple of events coming up in the near future that we would like to invite you to attend!  

ESP would like to invite all to come and participate in the 9th Annual ESP 5k “Superheroes On The Run Fighting through Breast Cancer” on October 26, 2019. We are again proud to use this event to honor our dear ESP friend who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2010. Pamela Gray Hobbs was a dancer, teacher, and parent affiliated with ESP for over 20 years. She remains in our hearts. In memory of Pam, a portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to help support Maggie Kudirka, aka “The Bald Ballerina.”  Maggie is a Maryland native who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 23, while she was dancing with the Joffrey Ballet Company in New York.  Maggie has been a strong advocate for breast cancer awareness.  The money raised will help with the cost of Maggie’s increasingly large medical bills, as she has already received 85 maintenance treatments. 

We always like to have a little fun with this event! So besides running a beautiful course lined with dancers cheering you on, this year we will be holding a contest for the most creative, most powerful and the cutest costumes! Runners and volunteers will be entered into this contest and the winners will receive a prize. Please register at ESP Dance Studio @ 15 Water St. Thurmont or you can register on Active:

For more information, contact the studio at 301-271-7458. Be sure to check them out on Facebook.

The ESP Performing Company would like to extend a special “thank you” to the Thurmont community, The Catoctin Banner, and to The Frederick Arts Council for all of their continued support.

ESP taking its fight to new heights.

The Class of 2017 has officially started. The reigns have been turned over by the 2016 Safe and Sane class, and parents and family members of the Class of 2017 are hitting the ground running. We would like to invite any and all family members to our next meeting on July 6, 2016, from 6:00-7:45 p.m. at the Thurmont Regional Library. Help is always appreciated, as well as new ideas to raise money for the Class of 2017. We want our students to have the best night of fun but, most of all, we want them to have the safe environment to have that fun.

There are many different opportunities to help: donating items such as cases of water, soda, and snacks; assisting in fundraisers; working concessions, etc. They are a team that truly cares for its students and want to make their graduation night celebration a memorable and safe one.

The 2017 Safe and Sane committee is holding a Crab Raffle. Tickets are $5.00 each.  Drawing will be held on September 11, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. at the Community Show. You may contact any board member of the 2017 Safe and Sane committee or call Missy Worth at 301-730-8482.

Flocking will be available by request. What is Flocking? You pick a person you would like to Flock, and we put a flock of flamingos in their yard. There are a different number of Flocks you can choose from at different prices. Contact Jennifer Leach at or by phone at 240-405-4538.

Please follow us on Social Media for the latest information.

  • Facebook account: Catoctin High School Safe and Sane 2017.

Supervised by Kellie Beavin.

  • Instagram account: Manned by senior student Kylie

Norwood, under the supervision of Kellie Beavin.

  • Twitter account: CHS Safe & Sane 2017. Manned by senior student

Skylar Wells, under the supervision of Kellie Beavin.