Despite the loss of longtime local concessions BARC and the Italian Heritage Dante Association, the fair is actually up in concessions this year with a total of 52, serving 900 different food items. That’s thanks to the addition of three new vendors slinging a slew of sweet and savory treats.
Here’s a rundown on the new guys and what they’re selling:
Sandwich bored? No way!
Mariah Vitoria says her concession, Mariah’s Fair Treats, lives up to its name, with a menu of corn dogs, funnel cakes and deep-fried candies and snacks. But it’s where the menu becomes less conventional that things get really interesting.
The Cooking Channel’s “Carnival Eats” visited her concession at two different fairs, first to try the ice cream doughnut sandwich and then the funnel cake bacon cheeseburger.
The burger ($9) replaces the traditional bun with fresh-fried mini funnel cakes. Once assembled with bacon and cheese, the dish is ready for the last step.
“The unique part about it is we drizzle maple syrup on top,” Vitoria says.
But Vitoria is most excited to bring the doughnut sandwich to the fair.
“It’s the most exciting thing we have on the menu. ... I crave those for breakfast all the time. My entire team of employees backs me on that.”
The dish ($7) starts with two fried cake doughnuts, which are rolled in cinnamon and sugar; a scoop of vanilla ice cream is then nestled in the middle. The whole thing is then drizzled with caramel.
The dish is delicious, albeit a bit messy.
“I would definitely encourage people to use a spoon or fork. But if you want to get crazy, you can pick it up and eat it.”
Mini doughnuts are also available for $5.50 for a dozen or $12 for 36. If you’re sharing (or hungry), Vitoria says to go big.
“People come back often and say, ‘I wish I had just gotten the bucket. We ate those so fast.’”
Available at most malls, soft pretzels may not be your first fair pick. But Conny Everett of PHD & Me is ready to convince you otherwise.
“These are hand-rolled fresh baked pretzels. They’re the size of a plate. They’re huge.”
Everett uses a recipe from a fourth-generation Coney Island operation and gets her flour from back East.
Flavors run from a simple salted to cinnamon and sugar, almond toffee, sesame seed, jalapeno and cheese, pizza and Parmesan. Prices run $6 to $8.
Everett’s favorite is the garlic, inspired by a garlic bread recipe from the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
“It’s so buttery and has chunks of garlic and oregano and basil. I put another kind of garlic on it.”
Pretzels sticks ($7), in all flavors, are available for those with smaller appetites or in the mood to share.
Diners can also enjoy dipping sauces, including cream cheese icing, marinara, pesto, warmed caramel and her No. 1 seller: cheese.
“Ninety percent of my toppings sold are the mild nacho. I sell tons and tons of that. ... It goes well with salted or jalapeno pretzels.”
And don’t worry about not being able to find the pretzels: Everett’s trailer is a show-stopper.
“My trailer is fabulous. It’s wrapped like a German house. It’s beautiful, just beautiful. People walking by “turn their heads because there is movement,” she said of the giant ring pretzel and dancing Hansel and Gretel figures clutching their own pretzels.
The only thing Everett is worried about is hot weather, which can hurt sales.
“It’s hard to sell bread when it’s 110.”
My oh my, here comes the pie
At past fairs, pie was only available in samples from one of the baked food contests. But now it’s easy as pie to enjoy the delicious dessert at Willamette Valley Pie Co.
Michael Compton, who runs the concession with wife Stephanie, said the shining star among the fruits in their baked goods is the marionberry, described as being “like a blackberry but juicier, more flavorful.”
“They’re from Marion County, Oregon, and it’s analogous to the notoriety of going to Georgia and trying the peaches,” he said.
Although some apples come from Washington, most of the fruit comes from Oregon. Flavors include cherry crunch, peach, rhubarb, strawberry rhubarb and Oregon berry (a mix of marionberry, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and boysenberry).
Seasonal flavors include pumpkin chiffon and chocolate ganache oatmeal, and a no-sugar- added marionberry is also on the menu.
Options include pie and cobbler slices ($6), turnovers ($5), mini pies ($7) as well as homemade cookies ($2 each or three for $5).
“They aren’t some sort of mass-produced cookies. These are my wife’s homemade cookies from her mom’s recipes.”
Pie and cobbler can be served a la mode ($3).
“We warm it up for the oooey, gooey yumminess,” he said of the desserts, which are baked in the trailer.
“But some people don’t like hot pie or warm pie, which is weird.”
The concession also sells Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda, offered in nine flavors from Buck’n Birch Beer to Open Trail Ginger Ale and Gatling Gun Grape. Customers must purchase a stainless steel mug ($15-$18 or $20-$25 for logo options) that allows for all-day free refills. Compton said guests who come back another day with their mug can purchase endless refills for $8.
Fairgoers who usually leave for the night with boxes of cinnamon rolls might consider changing it up and taking home a whole pie ($25) or cobbler ($40).
Along with the pie concession, the couple oversees the Bobble Lagoon attraction with the giant walk-on-water balls. Compton predicts a winning combination for fairgoers.
“You can eat all the pie you want and drink all the soda you want, then come to the walk-on-water balls and we’ll help you work it right off. Then we’ll get you back to eating.”