An Oklahoma-based couple stow their mobile concession rig and open a brick-and-mortar restaurant that specializes in fair and festival cuisine.
Just when you think there can’t be any untapped niche left in the restaurant business—let alone one that comes with a built-in customer base—along comes The Fair. This just-opened Edmonds, OK, restaurant specializes in concession food items typically available just a week or two each year at state and county fairs. Much deep-frying is required.
Come late summer, all nutritional bets are temporarily off for many American families. As soon as they set foot onto their county or state fairgrounds, they’re ready to load up on a type of food that seems to exist only at these venues. Bad-for-you items loaded with fat and sugar dominate the offerings on any fair’s midway, with battering and deep-frying being the preparation method of choice.
Fair food is a nightmare from a nutritionist’s point of view, but fairgoers don’t care. Perhaps it’s because they realize they won’t be able to eat this way until fair time rolls around the following year. Corn dogs, elephant ears, funnel cakes, deep-fried cheese…say what you will about these food offerings, but huge numbers of people find them temporarily irresistible, at least for a week or two each summer.
With the opening of The Fair restaurant in Edmond, OK, we’re about to find out if there’s a permanent market for this type of food. Owners Craig and Autumn Goforth, concession stand operators who used to travel the fair and festival circuit, have put down roots with this restaurant.
Here’s what they’re serving:
• Corn dogs, in jumbo ($4), regular ($3) and kiddie ($2.50) sizes.
• Chicken on a stick ($6).
• Fried Snickers, Twinkies, Oreos or peaches ($3).
• Pita sandwiches with steak ($8), chicken ($7) or veggies ($6).
• Fried Cheddar cheese ($2.50).
• Indian tacos ($6).
• Fresh-cut fries, small ($2), large ($3.50) and jumbo ($5).
Coming soon are onion blossoms, sweet potato fries, fried pickles, fried cheesecake and fried bologna sandwiches. Beverages are lemonade and the like.
The Goforths serve classic renditions of this food without irony. The couple has already shown their marketing savvy by offering a high school happy hour between three and five p.m. on selected days.
Keep your eye on how The Fair makes out, because it could be a genius idea. Why? We know there’s a nearly insatiable market for food like this during actual fairs. And we can see how avid fairgoers might wish to indulge themselves a time or two between fair seasons, perhaps creating long-term viability for the operators of The Fair and restaurants like it.
The lesson for other operators here is that fair food might work as an occasional special or as a short-term promotion. Who knows? Perhaps some skilled culinarians can figure out how to elevate some of these fair food items to reach a broader audience. It’s worth a shot.