San Juan County Fair, food and fundraising | Guest Column

By Brad Fincher

The 2018 San Juan County Fair is quickly approaching and runs from Aug. 15-18. Different people associate different things with the fair. For some, it’s the carnival. For others, it’s the 4-H events. For even more, it’s seeing friends you haven’t seen since last year’s fair.

For me, it’s the food.

Insider tip No. 1: Although the fair opens on Wednesday, if food vendors set up on Tuesday, they will always start selling early once they are cleared by health inspectors. The county health department staff are on our team at the fair, and have always made themselves available at a moment’s notice, and keep us safe. So, on entry day, when you enter your prize vegetable or pie or photograph, head directly to the food court for an early dining start. I have to admit, I have a ritual. I always kick off the fair with a plate of curly fries. My friend John says that for him it is a corn dog. My friend JB says it’s the brisket. This year you will have a chance to eat fried catfish and collard greens, a plate of Pad Thai noodles or a buttery cob of corn. If you’re a traditionalist, eat the American Legion burger or a 4-H rambler breakfast. If you have a taste for the exotic, try a Philly cheesesteak, bison burger or Lebanese street food. New this year is Hawaiian-style barbecue, Himalayan dumplings, salami sandwiches and empanadas. Vegetarians don’t despair! We have stuffed baked potatoes, sweet potato soft tacos and veggie burgers. Whatever your meal, save room for snow-cones, ice cream, crepes, kettle corn, Hungarian elephant ear or the famous Parent Teacher Association pie booth. Yes, there is an espresso stand as well!

Insider tip No. 2: The fair board has contests every day and prizes are free snow cones or ice cream.

Wait, there is more! Each night of the fair a nonprofit hosts a special barbecue dinner for fundraising. Wednesday all day, including lunch, Paideia Classical School will sell Italian Porchetta sandwiches, which are made of boneless pork roast. They sold out early last year. Friday all day, including lunch, the Lions Club will serve kielbasa and slaw. On Saturday night the Purple and Gold Club will continue their tasty tradition of serving a steak and baked potato dinner. They sold out last year, as well. Each of these nonprofits regularly raises $2,000-$5,000 at this event for scholarships. Come out and support our kids!

Did you notice Thursday evening was not mentioned in the list of fair barbecue dinners? That’s right, for the past two years we have not had a barbecue dinner on Thursdays. Anybody interested? Contact the fair office for more information. I’m thinking seafood, or pizza, or gyros, or salad. OK, probably not the last one, but just use your imagination.

Insider tip No. 3: Start eating early, and eat often to get the best bang for your buck. Also, walk around a lot to make room for more food.

Brad Fincher has been a San Juan County Fair Board member since 2001. One of his greatest joys is eating something from every food booth each year.