Behind the Scenes

Welcome to our festival.

Jamaica Booth

There are those people that like to cook, and there are those that LOVE it! Lynne Bigness will tell you that cooking IS her life…you can hear the passion in her voice when she talks about food. Growing up on a farm in Northern New York, Lynne spent lots of time helping her mom in the kitchen preparing meals for their large family. Since she was old enough to work, she’s been in the food industry. Recently, following a 16 year career as a chef at Barton College, Lynne moved on and is working as a caterer at Johnston Memorial Hospital. To top off the years of experience in the kitchen, she fulfilled her dream by recently completing her “chef” degree!

The Jamaican team missed last year’s festival, but we’re lucky to have Lynn and friends Amy and Jim McCormick back! Lynne’s daughters Trisha and Leanne will also be helping, along with a few of the grandkids!

Once again, festival goers will be treated to that wonderful marinated, grilled Jerk Chicken that was so popular in the past. On the side will be Coconut Corn Bread, a recipe someone shared with Lynne years ago. She added the coconut to make it moist and it has become an all time favorite with her catering business. Mmmm…”Jamaican me hungry!”

Lynne Bigness

Lebanon Booth

Many residents of Johnston County enjoy visiting Smith’s Farm and Nursery, a popular destination for getting fresh fruits and vegetables. Myron Smith grew up on the family farm, and wife Sarah moved from Wilson to join her husband 33 years ago.

Sarah is proud of her ancestry–her father’s parents came to the United States from Lebanon. This is the third year for the Lebanese booth at the festival. She and Myron, their son Mitch, along with daughter Farris and Kelly Cowell are happy to share this wonderful food with our festival goers.

Sarah tells us the menu has changed this year. They will be serving chicken shawarma, an incredibly flavorful Middle Eastern sandwich. The chicken is marinated in lemon juice and olive oil, garlic and spices (cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes.) It will be served in a pita slice with tahini sauce, chopped tomatoes and a side of hummus. Not only is this a healthy dish, but delicious!

Sara Smith

Poland Booth

Growing up eating Golabki’s and Kapusta, Brian Kochan knows a few things about Polish cuisine! Not only did he enjoy Grandma’s meals, but he learned cooking skills from his stepmother, Claire. A “farm girl”, she observed many of the traditional Polish customs, and holiday meals were especially important events. She was an awesome cook. Brian enjoyed helping her in the kitchen–potato pancakes were a staple at their home along with other traditional dishes! Those skills have served him well. Today you’ll often find Brian in the kitchen preparing all types of wonderful food for friends and family!

After living in Connecticut and New Hampshire, Brian, wife Cathy and daughters Heidi, Kaitlin and Sara made the move to Clayton 11 years ago. They quickly became involved with St. Ann’s church, and Brian took on the role of cook at the various Fish Fry’s, St. Patrick Day celebrations, and events in new kitchen. The first year of the International Food Festival, he led the Polish booth and has done so every year since, along with his dedicated team of more than a dozen or so volunteers. People look for this popular booth at each festival, and their fans will not be disappointed this year! They’ve decided the main dish that will surely please the taste buds of all will be:

Gołabki – Polish Cabbage Rolls: Local minced pork and beef mixed with rice and spices nestled in lightly soft-boiled cabbage leaf.


Old World Apple Sauce: Locally grown red and green apples cooked with spices.


The dish will also have paired International wines and beers served at the Hops and Vine Pavilion.

If you stop by the booth and strike up a conversation with Brian, ask him when he’s going to start up another Polka band…we heard he plays some mean drums!!!





poland poland-2

Ireland Booth

“When Irish eyes are smiling, they’re usually up to something!”  Luckily for the food festival,  Colleen “O’Connor” Doig is up to something…preparing to bring back the Irish booth!  After taking a year off to help husband John lead the Germany booth, Colleen has decided get the Irish team back together.  She has a group of loyal “Irish cooks” who helped with the first 6 years of the festival– and she welcomes any  parishioners who would like to join in the fun!

Both of Colleen’s grandparents came from Ireland and she has cousins and aunts still living there.   You may even get her to speak a few Irish words, which she learned while growing up in Pittsburgh, PA.   Colleen learned her cooking skills from her mom, who learned from her grandmother.

So what’s cooking this year?  Colleen will offer the traditional Sheppard’s Pie, a meat and veggie dish covered  with mashed potatoes.  She tells us that Irish food has the reputation of being “bland”, but her recipe is quite tasty!  The main dish will be accompanied by a side of delicious Irish Soda Bread.   Please stop by at the festival and enjoy some of this wonderful Irish comfort food!

Colleen, in green, with husband and members of the food team.

Colleen, in green, with husband and members of the food team.

German Booth

If you like a little German bratwurst with kraut, you’ll be in for a treat at the festival!  Mike and Mary Jo Buzard are excited to lead the Germany booth this year.  The couple met when Mike was stationed in Stuttgart and they have many fond memories of their time spent in Germany.

The Buzards have been been members of St. Ann Church since 1999.  Longtime parishioners will remember that Mike started the St. Ann Fall Festival, which was the “original” parish event that lead up to our International Food Festival.

After many years of leading the festival parking team, Mike decided to do a food booth, and Germany was a logical choice–his Grandma Spaight would be proud!   They will be serving Bratwurst, Apple Sauerkraut and Pretzels.  The kraut is Mary Jo’s recipe, which is made with apples and caraway seeds,  giving it a delicious, sweet taste.

If any “cooks” out there would like to join the German team,  they would be happy to have a few more helpers.    Please email Mike at


Mike and Mary Jo Buzard

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