People pack Louisiana State Fairgrounds for fair food favorites

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – You don’t have to wait until fall to eat your favorite Louisiana State Fair treats. Fair Food Drive-In Days is helping drive business to the fairgrounds and vendors.

When it comes to the state fair, there are those who come for the rides and those who come to eat.

“It kinda feels weird to be here without the fair, you know?” said Gracie Evans. “Because I’m used to being here with all the rides and stuff like that.”

“I mean, most of the time I don’t go to the fair just to go for the rides,” said Jamara Bryant, 11. “I’d be over here too, you know, try new foods.”

“There’s a lot of food here and we just like to have food,” said Lauren Bryant, 8.

And when it comes to fair food, everyone has their favorites. That’s what the ten vendors participating in Fair Food Drive-In Days are counting on.

“A lot of people think that when we go to fairs and festivals we’re just playing and this is not our normal job,” said Brandon Ott, who sells homemade root beer, kettle corn and pork rinds. “This is it. This is how we feed our families.”

Ott estimates his family’s business has lost $60,000 due to the coronavirus canceling events. The fairgrounds food court is offering them a chance to get back in business.

“This is a huge help to us,” said Ott. “I mean, I very huge help to us.”

“They’ve been sidelined sitting at home, no revenue,” said State Fair of Louisiana President and General Manager Chris Giordano.

The same goes for the state fairgrounds.

“We don’t have huge streams of revenue coming in this time of year,” Giordano said. “It’s a few thousand here, couple thousand there from events, so it’s definitely made a huge impact.”

All events scheduled this spring, from private parties to knife shows, were canceled because of COVID-19. Giordano said that adds up to about a $150,000 loss for the facility.

At this time, the big money-maker, the annual state fair, is still on the calendar October 22 – November 8.

“We don’t have a plan for not having a state fair,” said Giordano. “It would be devastating to our organization and possibly a ‘nail in the coffin-type’ situation for us.”

With social distancing measures in place and sanitizing stations on-hand, organizers said the thousands of people turning out to the first day of the event show they’re ready for fairs and festivals to return.

“The turnout today has been amazing,” said Ott. “I hope it keeps up the whole weekend and I hope it kind of shows that we can go back to being normal.”

In the meantime, people are getting a taste of the fair foods they love, without the wait.

The State Fair of Louisiana is holding the “Fair Food Drive-in Days” event from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., Thursday, May 14 through Sunday, May 17 at the state fairgrounds.

Vendors will be open rain or shine.

There will be free admission and parking. Cash and credit cards will be accepted for food purchases. All food will be packaged for take-out and to-go but a limited number of picnic tables and restroom facilities will also be provided on the grounds.

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