- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 22, 2007

Anita Clarke is helping Frederick fans root for the home team. This spring, Ms. Clarke is heading stadium operations for the Frederick Keys, a Class A farm team for the Baltimore Orioles.

“I love this job because it’s never the same thing every day,” she said.

Ms. Clarke got her first taste of the concessions business when she volunteered to sell snacks during a fundraiser at her alma mater, Colorado State University.

“I liked it so much that I began working at the stadium part time,” she said.

She began there as an office manager and eventually took the job full time.

Her current employer, Ovations Food Services, is a Tampa, Fla., contractor that caters to sports and entertainment facilities including the Patriot Center in Fairfax and the Cajundome in Lafayette, La.

In her new job as general manager of food service, Ms. Clarke runs the merchandising, marketing and concessions at Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick, Md.

“We feel like she’s been here for several years,” said Dave Ziedelis, general manager of the Frederick Keys. “She has shown an incredible amount of enthusiasm since she arrived a month ago, and I’ve been impressed with her ability to multitask.”

Ms. Clarke was raised on a dairy farm in Eaton, Colo. She once worked as a concessions manager at the Ranch, a 7,200-seat arena in nearby Loveland, Colo.

She well remembers when Motley Crue played at the Ranch in 2005.

“The venue was sold out, and in the middle of the show we had to bring in more beer to sell to the 7,000-plus crowd,” said Ms. Clarke “That was a learning experience.”

Ms. Clarke won’t have to worry about a beer shortage when she hosts the Maryland Brewer’s Springfest on May 12, when beer enthusiasts will gather to sample products from 12 local brewers.

Ms. Clarke said she was a bit nervous to leave Colorado to work for the Keys, but she has found Frederick to be a lot like home.

“I’m a good old country girl, and that’s why I like Frederick. It’s still kind of rural,” she said.

“It’s been fun to meet the die-hard fans here and make sure they get what they want,” she said. The Keys became popular with Frederick fans after they won the Carolina League championship in 2005.

Ms. Clarke said she has encountered some dedicated Keys fans with specific tastes.

“One of the first questions I was asked when I started here was whether or not we would offer tomato slices on our hamburgers,” said Ms. Clarke. “I told them they could have two slices if they want.”

Ms. Clarke, who lives in Frederick, has two grown daughters who live with their father in Colorado. Her 24-year-old son, Mike, is a U.S. Marine stationed in Iraq.

— Bryce Baschuk

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