San Juan County Fair Food a Locals’ Treat

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Today is day three of the 4-day San Juan County Fair. As typical, the businesses in the hospitality industry are overrun during fair week, and many retail, thrift, and consignment shops are as quiet as mausoleums. EVERYONE goes to the fair! It’s the chance for islanders to reconnect for a few brief moments during the busy summer season; to see each others’ works of art, garden yields, creative handiwork, and specially-pampered animals. It is old-fashioned fun, just to stroll through the displays and leisurely visit with friends and neighbors.

Unseasonal rain the first two days put a damper on the festivities: the Trashion to Fashion Show in the dark, and musical acts playing to empty seats. But one area of the fair is consistently busy, and that’s the Food Court. On my usual shift volunteering as a gate attendant, I have the pleasure of seeing lots of islanders coming and going, and my unofficial count numbers at least half of them there to buy fair food for lunch, or take some home to reheat for dinner. It’s true.

Yes, fair food is loaded with calories, fat, sugar, grease, all those things that doctors tell us not to eat. But there’s something alluring about it that seems irresistible. When I ask people what they bought, they always say something like, “Yah, I know it’s bad for me, but it’s only once a year.”  I saw quite a few Elephant Ears going out the gate. For those who don’t know about these pachyderm-sized treats, they are humongous sheets of fried dough, similar to a glazed donut. They can be served as a savory, loaded with chili and all the accompaniments, or as a sweet, topped with a ladle-full of butter-flavored grease and cinnamon sugar.

The San Juan County Fair is in full swing, and the food court is still a popular hangout.I had never heard of them until coming to the San Juan County Fair. It was the cinnamon sugar that got me. I HAD to have an Elephant Ear, and once I started on it, I couldn’t stop. Of course, a few hours later, my stomach was rebelling, and that was the last E.E. for this girl.

So maybe that’s a diet strategy: overdo on fair food until you can’t stand any more sugar and fat, then stay clean for a year. Hmmm, somehow I suspect people follow the first part, but the clean part typically doesn’t last much longer than a few weeks at best. After all, sugar and fat is almost addictive. But for most people, fair food is a big part of the fun, diets be damned.

It is always nice to see local restaurants participate in the food court. Tia’s Tacos is new this year, and at least one booth, Cynthia’s of Course, has some tasty, healthy options for those who prefer a moderate approach to dining at the fair. And your fair experience wouldn’t be complete without a piece of pie from the PTA booth.

With something for everyone, to my way of thinking, the county fair shouldn’t be missed – rain or shine. When you’re there, be sure to check out the impressive No Coat Imports display at the back end of the fairgrounds, just beyond the food court. And do let me know your take on fair food.

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