MILAN - Each Labor Day weekend, Edison High School students and their parents spend their time by, well, laboring.
Edison student-athletes, working two-hour shifts, sink scooping utensils into vats of muskmelon ice cream and watermelon sherbet, and serve the treats to Melon Festival patrons.
Parents of music boosters deep-fry battered cheese on a stick while students work as cashiers.
Drama boosters adult and student volunteers serve sizzling bratwursts to satisfy taste buds.
The work can be taxing, especially with the steamy September sun beating down. Still, this labor of love benefits students throughout the school year, paying for a variety of club projects and necessities.
There's enjoyable aspects to the work as well.
"It's fun when you're with your friends," Edison sophomore Zach Yovanov said. Yovanov said he and his friends compete with each other to see who can capture the largest scoop of ice cream.
Yovanov said his favorite part of working the ice cream booth is the treat he and the others receive after their two-hour shift: Several free scoops for themselves, which the 15-year-old enjoyed as he spoke Sunday about his duties.
There are educational benefits to working such stands.
Edison sophomore Kale Divers said working as an ice cream digger can help improve teamwork by having to communicate with the others.
Dan Strayer, a member of the athletic boosters' executive board, said the ice cream sale is the organization's second biggest fund-raiser, bringing in $15,000 to $18,000 each year. A total of 1,500 half-gallons and 500 three-gallon buckets of ice cream are sold, "enough to serve a lot of happy Melon Festival customers," Strayer said.
Meanwhile, the Edison Drama Boosters had 900 bratwursts ready to be sold Sunday to cover expenses for shows, equipment and contests. Edison language arts and drama teacher Rex Stanforth manned the grill, while freshman Linda Biemler served meat, took payments and doled out change.
"It's interesting," a smiling Biemler said about working the booth. Specifically, she said she enjoys working in busy conditions, with many people after bratwursts.
Customers also requested the 7,000 fried cheese sticks prepared and served by parents of Edison music students and members of the Edison Music Boosters. The group raises about $5,000 through the cheese sale each year, member Marqueta Reedy said. The music program benefits by securing money to pay for band and choir instruments, uniforms and equipment.
Girl Scouts get the same type of experience at their candy and soda booth. They sell the sweets to pay for trips and other activities, raising a total that varies from year to year, said Barbara Seiling, co-leader of Troop 81.
Ashley Pruitt, a Milan Elementary fourth-grader, was one of two girls working an afternoon shift Sunday.
What does she like about working the stand? Getting to sell the items to her friends, the youngster said.
With that, Pruitt went back to work.
Festival committee member Cathie Westcott commended all those selling items to raise funds.
"I think it's very good that they support the community and they make all their fund raising for the year here," she said.