Fairs: Why Food is the Main Attraction


Summer has only just started. The birds are finally out, the beaches are filling up, so why in the world are we already talking about state fairs? Don’t they start in October?

The truth is we’re already late to the game. Fair concessionaires have likely been thinking about how to fill your belly since November of last year. They’ve been planning their menus, filling out applications and crossing their fingers that they’ll be selected as a vendor for some of the most coveted spots in temporary food service. The chosen few are raking in more (fried) dough than they can count. Here’s why:

1. Concessions are getting creative
While totally awesome, the 10lb gummy bear has had his day. Vendors are starting to notice that the ‘bigger is better’ mantra that worked so well for them in the past isn’t getting as much traction with fair-goers. Maybe it’s the high level of competition amongst vendors or the public demand for alternatives to heavy, fried fare, but vendors are pulling out all the stops this year to make sure their menus are unique and irresistible.

2. The food is locally sourced

We think ‘local’ doesn’t mean it’s been shipped in from 200 miles away. It’s supporting the businesses at your back door. More and more local fairs are redefining local by requiring vendors to stock inventory from an approved list. This means that the food is coming in from (actual) local providers and feeding local economies. Localized food is becoming more and more popular in the food service industry. With innovations in hydroponic and aquaculture farming methods, local food sourcing will become a cornerstone in the food industry. And that makes us excited for the industry, but also for our tummies.

3. They’re trying out healthy options
Keeping with this year’s continued trend towards healthier eating, fairs will begin introducing more organic, fresh and whole foods into their concessions. This can be tricky for vendors. The small spaces and limited electricity can make storing and keeping fresh meats and produce difficult. As a result, concessionaires are carefully planning their layouts and opting to bring in their own stands in lieu of renting them from the fairgrounds. This way, they have more control over the kinds of menus they can offer and may more easily introduce healthy substitutes, making preservative and fat filled options a distant memory.

While you’re visiting county and state fairs this fall, take a look around. Are you seeing more creative, local and nutritious options at the concession stands? Tell us what you think!

Or, if you’re looking to offer more creative, local and healthy options at your fair concession stand, contact us to find out how we create temporary food spaces that accommodate everything from full kitchens to quick service.